Sunday, October 27, 2013

Market Research

To your right is a white cowboy hat, worn by a guy entirely too skinny for his own good. To your left is a dance floor where two-stepping is the only acceptable form of dancing besides grinding. In your hand is a plastic cup of well gin, soda (even though you asked for tonic) and a lemon because they've been out of limes for hours. It smells faintly of pine sol, cigarettes, and college. You may be sitting in the disco-balled darkness with friends and people you love, but you've already seen about seven people with whom you went to high school and you hoped never to see again, or forgot they existed entirely.

This is not a bad dream, your high school reunion or an old friend's wedding. This, my friends, is a glimpse into the elusive concept that is the Abilene bar scene. A scene where class is often replaced with rambunctiousness, and I had to learn the hard way that red wine at an Abilene bar is a mistake.

Now, I don't pretend to know the ins and outs of every bar in Abilene, but I have had my share of nights painting the town. In my opinion, there are only five bars you need to know about if you find yourself in Abilene on a Saturday night.

1. Fat Boss's -- The kid brother to the other Abilene bars, this relatively new place used to be an old bakery. The bartenders always remember my drink, which is a plus (but also kinda sad?), and the waitress comes to your table, allowing you to avoid the thirty-second shuffle to the bar and then the ten-minute awkward wait for the bartender's attention. Like most Abilene bars, Fat Boss's closes at midnight on Friday, but somehow it always feels much later. Maybe I'm just ready to run away from the stares of either creepy older men my dad's age or guys with piercings and muscles they're all too happy to show off.

This is how new Fat Boss's is: this is the only photo I've taken there.

2. The Beehive -- This is actually a restaurant, but their bar has a kick-ass long island iced tea served in a mason jar. Just one of those babies and I don't need to spend another dime all night...but letsbereal I probably will. Dark lighting barely lets you see the dollar bills pinned to the wall by customers. The Beehive is another place where you'll see people you haven't thought of in years, but these people are most likely either your parents' friends or that one guy you had a crush on in high school, but he was a senior and you were a freshman and 3/4 of the way through that long island you kind of half-wave to him only to realize he is waving at the person behind you. So yeah...that kind of bar.

3. Bar 14 -- The one bar that I would agree to go out to on weekdays because it was a stone's throw away from my house. They have open mic night on Wednesday nights and live music Fridays and Saturdays, so this is a great place to go if you don't really need or want to partake in conversation. But there is a back porch (because of course there is) where you can play Giant Jenga and share a massive picnic table with your amigos. I heard a few months back that it was going to close, so I had my birthday celebration there, but I think I heard wrong because Bar 14 is still blowing and going, which I can personally attest to after the last few weekends.

4. Firehouse -- Firehouse would probably be my favorite bar in Abilene if it were in a better location. To quote Ja'mie King: "Sorry, no offense, but it's true." Not that I don't love a good south Butternut St. location, but they're right next to a bunch of warehouses that makes my imagination run wild, which is not a good thing when it comes to dark, scary places. However, once you're inside the bar, it's always a good time. When my anger subsides from paying a $5 cover (which is most likely a safety precaution), there's always a pretty fun band, a dance floor, pool tables and yet another back porch where my friends and I usually spend all our time. One year over Thanksgiving break, I went one night and literally saw every single person I know and love in Abilene. Fond memories of Firehouse are reemerging now, but this post is already too long and I need to get on with it.

5. Guitars and Cadillacs -- Saved the best for last. I have a love/hate relationship with "guitars," because, as you could tell in the intro, there are some things that you must wrap your mind around when you first walk in. It's really more of a spectacle than a bar. When I told/tell my East Coast friends that this place exists, I think they think I'm making it up. Oh my, if only I were. The dance floor is huge and the DJ alternates between country and bump and grind rap. I think the bartenders really do believe tonic water and soda water are the same thing, and you have to side step a white stetson or two every couple of minutes. I have to be in the mood for guitars, which is not very common. But when I do, I'm always entertained and amazed that our society breeds some of the people I see there.

You can decide for yourself if/when you go.

So there you have it, my thoughts on the only bars you need to know about in our lovely little town. Despite all the weirdness I've described here, I've had some of the best nights out at these bars and probably wouldn't change a thing even if I could. No, we cannot rival bars in New York or DC or Dallas, but that's what gives our little scene its own flavor, and I'm partial to that West Texas variety.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

I missed Paris Workshop so much that I created my own in Abilene

I realized this morning that I hadn't written anything, besides a blog post here and there, in, like, four freaking weeks. This made me incredibly sad, and I know my professors in Paris would be disappointed. They taught us how to live like writers, and here I am, not putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard in almost a month. I so cherished my discipline when I first got back, but lost it in the midst of job searching, moving and a propensity to sleep late.

I decided today that, at this point in my life, the only way to stick to a writing routine is to have some accountability. So I started a Meet Up group for writers in Abilene to share their work and get tips from other writers in the community. All levels are welcome, especially beginners, obvi, because that's what I am.

I'm nervous and it's scary because what if no one shows up? But you know what? If that happens, the worst outcome is me sitting in a coffee shop with my laptop, a situation I have been in many times before. (Also because Abilene is safe and no one is going to try to kidnap me, right? Right??!)

So get out there and tell your Abilene friends who love to read, write, and drink coffee!!

PS. Even if you don't like writing and are just really good at editing, that's totally fine and I'll welcome you with open arms.

PPS. I mean, since I was already reminiscing a little bit...

Outdoor writing session in Luxembourg Gardens. *sigh*

And our favorite spot to write inside, Cafe Universel. Also, Amanda clearly loves writing.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Weekend Non-Happenings

Sunday fun day is right. Yesterday, I spent a wonderful day doing absolutely nothing that I had to do -- which is sometimes the most fulfilling kind of day. After working long days Thursday, Friday and Saturday, I was ready for some down time. Here are a few things I did or didn't do that add up to a wonderful Sunday in my new house.

1. At my brother's request, I went to see Captain Phillips. My brother and I usually have the same taste in movies, and getting a recommendation from him is basically a guarantee that I will like it. And I did. Tom Hanks was incredible, and the filmmakers outdid themselves. I did notice a lack of Chekov's gun at the end of the film, something to do with keys, but since it's based on non-fiction they couldn't really rewrite history. Other than that, it was an unbelievably moving film, and Tom Hanks should probably be nominated for another Oscar.

2. I didn't make my bed. I actually have to fight the urge just a smidge, because I usually feel like I can't start the day until it's made. But today, I just left it. Maybe the possibility of taking a nap at any possible moment makes me slow down and relax just a little bit more. 

3. One word: burritos. I went to La Popular for breakfast yesterday morning with a couple of similarly hungover people, and it was delightful. Bonus: I went to one of their locations that I had never been to before, and they sell coke in a bottle. It was divine.

4. Yesterday afternoon, I sat on the porch in my new (to me) house and watched the rain while I finished my book. 

5. I'm re-watching the fourth season of Parks and Rec and I couldn't be happier, or more confident that I want to be Leslie Knope when I grow up.

Not only all of this, but I made some new friends and had a wonderful night out on the town Saturday night. One of about a thousand that I know will round out my life here in Abilene. Here's to many more Sundays like this.

Friday, October 4, 2013

"Music is what feelings sound like."

I'm about to go all fangirl over here, so just prepare yourself.

I just can't with all this cuteness right now.

In June, the Mumford and Sons concert in Dallas was cancelled due to a medical issue with one of their band members (Read about my emotional heartbreak due to this turn of events here). It was rescheduled for a few Wednesdays ago, September 18th. After a very last minute offer of the tickets from my friend Sandi who generously invited me the first time and couldn't go this time, I found myself driving to Dallas on a hot Wednesday morning to meet my cousin for the dance and sing along party concert.

I first heard Mummies and Sonnies (h/t to Beth Breeding for coming up with that nickname) on a short-lived series on Fox called "Lone Star." While the show struggled and was eventually cancelled after only a few episodes, I remember the entire pilot had all these songs in it. The first one--I found out the name later--was "The Cave," then "Awake My Soul" and a few others mixed between. They all sounded like the same singer, and each one was so beautiful that I needed them immediately in my life. Trusty Google told me a tale of these English guys (I was already on board) who called themselves Mumford and Sons. I began to listen, and our love story began. 

Three years later, I am on the green and slightly littered lawn of the Gexa Energy Pavilion in downtown Dallas. Once again, their music lifts my spirits and affects me in a way that no other music has.

And yes, I realize I am obsessed. My parents have started saying, "no more Mumford and Sons" when it's my turn to pick the music. I guess they're not as enamored as I am.

After the concert, my cousin and I went to one of her favorite bars in Denton. A friend of hers asked me, "what's your favorite band?" The answer was almost too easy.

This weekend, I'm moving to a new house, working, and doing some coffee drinking and book reading. All with Mumford and Sons' latest CD playing in the background, of course.

Have a great weekend!

Ps. If you haven't  seen a documentary called "The Big Easy Express," pull it up on Netflix NOW. Old Crow Medicine Show, Mumford and Sons and Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros on a train to New Orleans. It'll pretty much change your world.