Tag Archives: Austin

A Brief Open Letter to the Woman at the Dog Park

Is your name Starlight? Or maybe Rainbow-serenity? Let’s go with Starlight. I hope that’s okay, Starlight. When I was little I’m pretty sure I dreamed of your free-spirited ease of being and penned a song about you entitled, “Why can’t the world be free?” More than anything, I think the song scared my dad into fearing my future liberal political and social endeavors. I have a few confessions, Starlight, and since you’ve shared with me that you’re moving to “the new high rises downtown” I feel like it’s a good time to get them out in the open.

First, my fiance saw your boobs. I know! I know! Do you also feel a lot closer now? I do. I feel great getting this off my chest, (see what I did there?!?). He didn’t comment much about them which inevitably means they were impressive and I can see that, Starlight. Like, literally I can see the outline of your breasts because you’re never wearing a bra — the nipples too. And that’s okay! Bras are just a cagey nuisance of underwire and female suppression. And you know, if only all of us women could be so open as to share our boobs with the world via our patios maybe, just maybe we’d be a freer place.

I just found out this is called "African Style" and I'm left wondering... why does everyone hate Americans so much?

I just found out this is called “African Style” and I’m left wondering… why does everyone hate Americans so much?

When did you have your adorable baby, Starlight, and do you also think he has the head of Rob Reiner? Like, not in a bad way, he just has the biggest baby head I’ve ever seen. And this concerns me, as the level of shape your body is in would put Cosmopolitan’s “How to lose (insert area of body that any women has ever complained about)…” section out of business.  Is it because you are constantly carrying that nugget on your back using a tie-dyed sheet and a few overhand knots? Wait, did you secretly grow up in Laguna Beach, CA where your father taught you to sail and do things like tie knots properly? Now that I think of it, your red hair did not seem all that natural (because women born there can only be blonde. And rich. You know, because, Laguna Beach). Were you friends with LC? How about her and that Kohl’s deal, amiright? I’m sure you’re happy for her. Because, you know, karma and good vibes.

I have to admit that I’ve often thought about the nature of your family, like in the way that I could’ve sworn your baby daddy was a homosexual male. And it’s obviously none of my business, except for the times he yells “hi!” when I’m out on my balcony which is an obvious open invitation to examine your personal lives. It’s just, his hair is so perfectly unkempt and also that time I swore he was holding hands with a man. It’s confusing! Are you guys pulling an The Object of My Affection starring late 90s Jen Aniston and Paul Rudd? Because who wouldn’t want to raise her child with gay Paul Rudd? If so, no judgment here!

Because wouldn't we all marry gay Paul Rudd?

We’d all marry gay Paul Rudd.

Mostly, I just want you to know I’m thinking of you and how much you look like Jenny Lewis and how jealous that makes me. Oh, and I also wanted to know if all of your friends also look like a combination of the Lost Boys from Hook and members of an up-and-coming indie band or is that just you? And also sure, your baby is a pretty fucking loud crier (But still totz adorbz!).

Apparently, the Lost Boys may have actually formed an Indie band already...

Apparently, the Lost Boys may have actually formed an Indie band already…

Enjoy your new home in downtown Austin, Starlight! (Remind me again how you mysteriously make enough money to live in downtown Austin yet could pass for not having a shower in your home…)


Your nosey neighbors! xoxo

About that Time I Met Mindy Kaling

Did I wake up that morning thinking I’d meet her? No, I did not, but there was a chill in the air from the North and I was having a good hair day, so you could say there were some signs.

If you haven't watched clips of this play yet while then I actually don't want to hear from you...

If you haven’t watched clips of this play yet while then I actually don’t want to hear from you…

And of course I had imagined it the way I still imagine sitting front row at the off, off Broadway production of Matt and Ben (curse my high school self’s sense of social importance for preventing me from seeing this work of gold!.) I’d walk up to her majesty and pretend like we had met before. I could see it all now. I’d call her red jumper “bold” and she’d tell me she liked my new Zara coat — “classic yet current,” she’d say. Soon enough we’d be chatting about her time playing Ben Affleck, the writer’s room at The Office, and the struggle of being a woman in comedy.

Somebody would snap a picture of us assuming I was also a celebrity because of the comfortable and candid nature of our interaction. The picture would get retweeted endlessly by the like twelve followers I have till it inevitably ends up on Perez with the caption “Mindy and her new bestie, Aly, a writer currently living in Austin” and then he’d say something cheeky like, “watch out Mindy, that new bestie has some serious styleZz” or “this girl gives writers a GOOD-LOOKING name.” Seriously, I could be like Karlie Kloss to Taylor Swift, except for the whole me not being a supermodel thing.

Chic, right? Right?!?!

Chic, right? Right?!?!

The day it happened as I said, I was wearing my new Zara coat because I recently decided Zara was super chic and also so it wasn’t obvious that I was not in possession of a festival badge. (SXSW Hierarchy breakdown: badges get you in to everything, wristbands get you into almost everything, having neither gets you in a line for three hours to see some random indie band from fifty yards away.)

So as I approached the Austin Convention center with Matti, badgeless save for the press badge I consistently imagine myself wearing, I readied myself. Sure, even existing in the same building as Mindy Kaling was enough to brag about for days but I needed to actually see her, breathe in her full-bodied, female talent or whatever. When we entered the building it was clear that security was ready for me — every possible entrance to upstairs, (or heaven as I came to see it) was guarded by some volunteer who’s only job was to shame people without badges into not asking if they could go upstairs. I eyed my target by the elevator, an innocent looking young man who reminded me of the skinny Conor Oberst fans I used to make fall in love with me in middle school — so, I had this in the bag.

“How do I get upstairs?” I asked the the fifteen-year old guarding the elevator.

“Probably by using that elevator.” Well, that was easy.

I liked his style, direct, to the point. As I hopped on to the elevator, Matti was caught by the Connor Obersty looking temple guard as he exclaimed, “Badges, only, people, badges only!” Apparently, the boy had turned in to an angry Newsie after I entered the elevator.

I felt unjustifiably avenged as I rode the elevator to my ultimate destiny while Matti was left behind in the figurative dust. “Female comics unite!” I repeated over and over under my breath like my own personal Captain Planet mantra.

The older, badge-holding woman standing next to me in the elevator chimed in, “he’s not going to get up here without a badge.” and then as the statement left her lips lined with a magenta pencil, she started to look me up and down, “wait do you even have a badge?”

“YOU WILL NOT RUIN THIS FOR ME,” I loud whispered at her as we exited the elevator.

The closest I got to Perez Hilton stardom was a mini photo shoot Matti took of me posing with a signed picture of Mindy. Things could be worse..

The closest I got to Perez Hilton stardom was a mini photo shoot Matti took of me posing with a signed picture of Mindy. Things could be worse..

And then I saw her. Doves flew from under the table she was signing at and I could have sworn I heard Beyonce live-singing “Who run the world? Girls!!!” in the background like I was slow-motion-walking into my future or some shit.

After waiting in line for about 30 minutes the devil dressed in a “Volunteer SXSW” t-shirt came up to me and the others in line, put his hand straight out in front of me and said, “this is where the cut off will be to meet Mindy, but you’re welcome to stay and see if she has more time!”

I immediately hated him and all of the decisions that led him to this exact moment, denying me access to the my idol, my future writing partner and best friend. Of course I stayed and waited. And as we inched closer and closer in line she was right there in front of me. Her teeth were more imperfect than I had imagined which only made our bond stronger as I like to brag that my teeth “have character” that way people are less inclined to poke fun at my snaggle tooth, you know, because I choose to like it.

True to the devil’s word, the lucky rotund seventeen-year old with a badger her daddy probably bought for her (or I just have to imagine this to make myself feel better) was the last person in line to have a converstaion and picture taken with Mindy.

He's even sassy in black and white!

He’s even sassy in black and white!

“Not so fast!” I said to myself, apparently audibly. I ran out in front of the table where Mindy was signing and started to bow. For some reason, bowing was the one thing that came to my mind to do. Do I regret it? No. I regret nothing. (Except for that time a couple of days ago when I saw Daniel Esquivel from Project Runway at the local food co-op and I didn’t tell him how much I loved his purse).

“Mindy…I just… wanted to…”

“INTERACT WITH HER!?” Some blockhead yelled from behind me, as if this were her moment with the queen (of course, her instinctual completion of my sentence was completely accurate but that’s beside the point).

“Hi!” Mindy mused, like an angel, “well it was a really good interaction.”

And then I bowed again because apparently that’s my thing when faced with overly exciting, fabulous situations. I just bow it out.

I was not lying about the jumpsuit...

I was not lying about the jumpsuit…

I then convinced Mindy to sign her remaining head shots to give out to the rest of us mere mortals. She thought it was “the best idea!” so you could say we’re friends now. I may still be waiting for that whole Perez Hilton story thing but at least I came away with an almost friend in Mindy and a new found confidence in wearing loud jumpsuits. So, win-win.




P.S. – I also met Stephanie Beatriz and Melissa Fumero from Brooklyn 99 after. They told me “they liked my whole outfit I had going on.” Despite not really knowing if that was a compliment I’m pretty sure they’re going to look me up when they’re back in town. brooklynn99

Why Don’t You Go Out More?

tumblr_mbjru9OW4L1r426i4o6_250I don’t go out much but when I do I like to envision myself as that person that you look at and say to yourself “why aren’t I having that much fun?” Like, I want you to watch me twerk it and try to get equally as low. Usually I can manage to balance between twerking it like B and ironically giving my best Maya Rudolph angry dancing face.

And if you’re like most girls my age, you’re a sort-of-recent College graduate playing Sex in The City on the weekends while you make almost enough money to pay your student loans each month. But if you’re like me, you go out once a month to some place that can be construed as a “bar” to socialize with the other children and still can’t pay your student loans. Asking me to “go out” on the weekends is too often akin to a child being asked: “I was thinking we could go buy that third Ipad you’ve been wanting so badly but then I thought hey, why not take you to the dentist instead?”

Lately, however, I’ve been trying to make an effort to be more social, like, not just talk-to-my-friends-on-the-internets social.

My first brush with the harsh reality of why I don’t go out was when we decided to go into a random bar on sixth street. You guys, we were the oldest people there. Granted, we should’ve judged the place accordingly when we saw the beer pong tables set up at the front, but my competitive mind only sees games as opportunities to win at something. Then I saw them. Two blonde girls wearing the same high-waisted, tribal patterned, Harem pants with identical black tank-tops tucked in. And they were best friends (obviously). And then I thought of the dialogue between them before coming to this very bar:

harem pants“I wish I could wear these pants out,” says Thing One.

“Why can’t you? They’re SO cute. I have like, basically the exact same pair,” says Thing Two, thinking to herself, I really wish I could wear mine out too.

“I just, like, don’t really know if I can pull them off, you know?” Thing One is surprised by her outburst of vulnerability, she never lets Thing Two see her insecurity, specifically because her life up to this point has been in competition with Thing Two.

“My mom always said the first step to pulling it off is putting it on.” Thing Two’s mom never said this. Thing Two’s mom would have told her not to wear the same exact pants as her best friend at the same time at the same place. “You know what?” Asks Thing Two. “Let’s BOTH wear them. Who cares? YOLO, RIGHT?”

“You’re right!” Thing One says as she pulls up her Urban Outfitters Harem pants, “We look HOT.” She thinks to herself, And at least mine aren’t from Forever Twenty-One.


At Barbarella, the dance club that introduced me to Austin, we ran into that girl who isn’t aware of her personal space or of how much her dancing looks like a chimpanzee’s mating dance. (Do chimps have mating dances? I always imagined they did in my head and I can’t look it up in fear of my hopes being dashed.) She’s cute in the way Zooey Deschanel would be if she wore the same clothes but was twenty-five pounds heavier and had blonde hair — just as long as she’s wearing that “steal” of a vintage dress she found at Goodwill that looks more like the dress you wore at your brother’s First Communion than a vintage find. She’s dancing like no one’s watching, literally. And this is coming from someone who spent most of the night looking like this:


The most accurate portrayal of “The Maya Rudolph Dancing Face” caught on camera (Or, just how I dance and look normally)

Last but not least, there’s that group of guys that are all wearing the same brand of flip flops. They are either wearing polos or t-shirts with the name of the pool they used to lifeguard at written across the back. To state the obvious, they call each other “bro” in lieu of ever learning first or last names so their brain space can better be utilized memorizing the scores of all the sports games.

As I sit in the only available chair and wait for Anna, Rich and Chris to get scrumptious drunk food I can’t eat, Bro One approaches.

“You’re not eying my sub are you?” He had Ron Howard’s face in Happy Days mixed with some Matt Saracen from Friday Night’s Lights. I immediately willed him to disappear as I blinked. He wouldn’t, so I got up and joined friends in the pizza line. But as we all walked back over to a table, friends with pizza in hand, Ron/Matt reached out and placed his douchey little hand on the space between my right shoulder and breast. This is the worst pick up line ever, mainly because it’s like, sexual harassment. I immediately had flash backs of being drunk in high school at a St. Johns dance, getting into an almost fight with another girl as my boyfriend of the day tried to “hold me back.”

“Don’t touch me, creep,” I said, only to be heard by Big Bro, a six-foot-five mess of a man with sauce stains all over his lifeguarding tee from the meat-filled sub he was chaotically shoving down his un-shaven gullet.

“He didn’t touch you,” said Big Bro, apparently suited to chronically being on the wrong side of every argument.

“Tell your friend you touched me!” I demanded of Bro One, my integrity hanging in the balance. He instead took it as a public outcry for a public apology to which Big Bro pretended not to hear.

“Yeah, I’m like sorry, that was totally an accident,” said Bro One, his eyes lighting up as he discovers Anna for the first time. It would have to do.

I felt satisfied enough when Anna, meaning to give Bro One her old cell phone number, actually gave him her mom’s number. You guys wonder why I don’t go out more.

How to Not Die When Hiking

foodcomaYou know when you wake up before your stomach isn’t fully done digesting the entire box of macaroons junk food you ruthlessly shoved down your gullet the night before? You feel like a mix of the Michelin Man and seven-year-old you the morning after Halloween — that’s me any morning I wake up before ten.

Yesterday, as a means to rid myself of this feeling, and the entire container of almond and dark chocolate chip cookies I heroically consumed in a day’s time, (without having t0 resort to a suppository), I did a brave thing: I went on a hike. Normally, throw some coffee in my volcano stomach and bing, eruption results (As my mom would say, in the middle of the checkout line at the grocery store, “aww Al, I gotta go poops,” because she’s apparently a five-year-old boy) but my innards are vindictive — they hold my feasts against me. (FINE, I guess I did also eat the entire container of macaroons but Matti had some too…. okay, okay, he only had two.)

new yorker

Aww, New Yorker, you’re so clever!

I felt excited about the idea of going on a hike, I felt like Caesar Milan would really appreciate my pack-leader sensibility and the last time Matti and I went on this trail it barely felt like exercise (except for maybe at the end when I was huddled over a sharp rock holding back vomit). But hiking has a way of hiding its misery better than other forms of exercise like say, running on a treadmill; I feel like the same people that invented hamster wheels also invented treadmills. I did used to run on them when I worked as a swim instructor at Boston Sports Club, but that was because the gym membership was free, and you know what, hiking in the woods is always free! (Unless it costs money!)

My experience hiking can be summed up by my choice of foot wear: my powder blue Chuck Taylor’s from 7th grade that are a mysterious size 6 yet still fit. (Because my aim is to look like a hiker who doesn’t give a fuck.) Fast forward an hour to me attempting to sprint in an empty riverbed, dodging rocks and baby plants as Tengo chases me, then crookedly stepping on a stone and almost breaking myself due to the Chuck’s lack of ankle support — I imagine I looked like one of those models on the runway with toothpick legs and 20 inch heels that looses her balance and looks like a baby deer trying to get up and walk for the first time — ugh, so painfully delightful to watch.

Halfway down the trail is when I realized, however, this could be where I die. I clearly had not thought out this whole hiking thing: I never go anywhere by myself I could likely be killed. Don’t get me wrong, Tengo’s a good protector, but he takes after me — throw him something edible and he’s all are you my mommy now? I mean, I get scared just lying in my own bed at night, fearing tiny dangerous people will pop out of the AC unit, so how did I not properly anticipate the danger before positioning myself as serial killer bait deep, deep in the wooded trail behind my apartment. Matti even texted me “Be safe!” (More about my irrational fear of serial killers).

This is not me but it is the best depiction of the type of area I would've been killed in.

This is not me but it is the best depiction of the type of area I would’ve been killed in.

There was also the fact that I had some misplaced confidence from the first half of the hike, which was the going down part. I used all my energy prancing and maneuvering around wooded obstacles that I forgot I wasn’t sixteen and in shape. You would’ve thought I was trying to invent my own brand of woodland Parkour (key word: trying). Looking around, I thought, yeah well, this would be an awfully good place to murder someone: a skinny trail leading to an empty riverbed in the middle of the woods to which I have no alternative way to get out besides the mountainous way I came. But that’s when I realized, Aly, you’re way to ordinary to get killed by a lurking serial killer in the woods behind your apartment — this is the logic that usually helps me to calm down in unfoundedly fearful situations. Also, if you predict something awful is going to happen, it’s less likely to occur, because then we’d all be psychic — it’s just science.

Matti and I on the same trail a few weeks ago, notice my side forehead sweat

Matti and I on the same trail a few weeks ago, notice my side forehead sweat

So Tengo and I ventured back up where we came from, and needless to say, we didn’t get murdered, which leads me to believe my previous assertion about tragedies is correct. Also, I believe I sweat out all of the leftover cookie fat from the previous nights, because that’s possible. I wish I had pictures to show you of my cranberry sauce colored face on the way up but I was too fearful that showing I was distracted by taking a picture would entice the hiding killer.

I did learn some lessons from my hike: Don’t assume you will want or be able to carry anything on your way back from the hike. Yes, this includes water. Get a damn fanny pack or some shit. Better yet, strap it to your dog’s back — he’ll appreciate the workout (I say he because all dogs are boys). There’s always going to be something that looks like a snake hole that you must jump over. Don’t waste your energy on the way down, you idiot. And finally, find an alternate route of evacuation incase of serial killers. Happy hiking!

What have you done lately that scared you?

Wendy Davis is the Reason I Moved to Texas

Being from Boston, it’s often hard to tell people I now live in Texas.

“Why in the world would you move there?” They say. “Do you hate us that much?” They also say.

Or if your my grandmother, you say, “Well good riddance! Let Texas have you!”

Confession: I didn’t move here because of Wendy Davis (although that’s the story I’m using in my memoir) but she is the reason I’m smiling like a proud, giddy mother. I moved here for a change. I moved here because the week of the South By Southwest Festival is like a city-wide party where you should expect to see at least three of your favorite bands. I moved here because Ithaca winters are like living in an igloo for six months that you have to dig out of every morning to get to class.

But Texas is so conservative, everyone says ya’ll and you have to go to bed knowing Rick Perry is sleeping closer to you than ever before. As a women, you also feel it’s more possible for you reproductive rights to be taken from you. That a room full of men can still decide what is allowed to happen inside of my body is one of the many mysteries I’m still unable to make a joke out of.

The truth is however, the longer I live here in Austin, the more I love it — In that way you love the gas station you drive a few extra minutes to get to because it has your favorite drinks even though sometimes there’s a racist, sexist, cowboy buying chewing tobacco giving you the up and down.

I could give you some other reasons why living in Austin is worth it.

  • We had this guy (who my mom loved):

naked cowboy

  • We have food trucks everywhere we you can get vegan sloppy joes (come one, people, this is amazing!)
  • We have awesome swimming holes like Sculpture falls, just make sure it’s rained in the last couple of weeks and there might be water.
  • Okay, okay. But the best thing we have is this badass feminist:

source: AP

Because this women called those men out. Because this women didn’t pee, poop, eat, drink, or sit for 13 hours. Because if you give a girl some time to talk about why she should have reproductive rights, she can go all day long. Because this woman is my hero, and she exists in Texas. So yeah, it’s hard being a northerner in the absolute South. But I should be able to decide what happens to my body wherever I live so for this, I’m proud to live in a state where Wendy Davis exists. I know she’s got my back. And me, I’m still wrapping my head around having the ability to talk intelligibly for almost 13 hours. Girl, I got your back just for that.

Click here or here to read more about Davis’ battle.

Who inspires you? Are you proud to live where you do? Tell me about it, stud.