Engaged!

On August 7th, J and I celebrated our 7th year anniversary. Or at least, we were supposed to but one of his closest friends from high school was having a destination bachelor party that weekend and wouldn't budge on the date. Figuring we'd have more anniversaries and knowing I'd want some understanding if the roles were reversed, I pitched a fit and demanded 7 days of celebration when he came back to make up for the missed day.

I was partially kidding (like 99% kidding. I was fine with just going out to dinner) but he liked the idea and agreed. Starting that Monday, we had celebrations each day. Monday was a breakfast-for-dinner celebration. Tuesday, he surprised me with flowers and a candlelit dinner. Wednesday we were supposed to go to the park but J got food poisoning. Thursday, we went to our favorite park.Friday we went to see a special light exhibit at the museum. I found out later he was going to propose there but was thwarted by a 3rd person who ran into the exhibit at the last minute! 

Tuesday
Wednesday
Friday
Not pictured: Thursday pajama party 
When we got out, we drove to lunch and passed these beautiful gardens. He suggested we go out after lunch and I agreed despite it being about 1000 degrees outside. We ate at a place with gigantic portions sizes and accidentally ordered way too much food. We laughed and ate as much as we could before admitting defeat and driving over to the gardens.

Centennial Gardens
As soon as we got there, I knew something was up. He was being weirdly quiet and rushing us through some of the most beautiful parts of the garden. I followed along at his pace and we headed towards the hill that was sort of the centerpiece of the gardens. I'm going to interject here and remind ya'll it was A THOUSAND DEGREES out and the last thing I wanted to do was walk round and round to the top of the hill but J insisted so I said, "Fine."

He held my hand (despite the weather) and we talked about how the past 7 years had been for us. We stopped at every waterfall along the way to cool off and looked out over the gardens. When we got to the top, there was only another pair of friends there and they left as soon as we got there. I sat on the front bench and looked out at the gardens. He tried to squeeze next to me but there really wasn't space for 2. We took a picture and then he got up. He told me I should move to another bench that had '100 years' engraved on it. In the 2 seconds it took me to sit down, he had knelt down and pulled out the ring box. He was sweating bullets, was uncharacteristically flustered and barely got out "Ally, will you marry me?" without a stutter.


I always thought I'd know how I'd react in this kind of situation but apparently, I don't really know myself. Instead of answering, I grabbed his head and stared at him. I don't know for how long but eventually he said, "Is that a yes?"

I nodded, he put the ring on my finger and I grabbed his head again because I couldn't stop staring at him. I know other people cry but I think I was in complete and total shock. As we walked back down the hill, I held his hand and let it sink in. By the time we were in the car, I was in full out maelstrom-of-emotion mode. There's really not a single word I can use to describe it. I was excited and nervous and jittery and elated and joyous and shocked and I cycled between all of those on a pretty quick basis. On the way home, we jammed out to a soundtrack of 90's Nelly.

Needless to say, it was perfect and kind of a relief to have it done! I was so nervous the weeks leading up to it. Since then, everything feels right and I can't really remember what I was so nervous about. Maybe it was the anticipation.

Bahhhhhhhh. Now comes all of the planning things (It's really amazing how quickly people start asking you about the wedding) and everything seems daunting. I keep reminding myself that it's one step at a time. 

If I Can Get Personal For A Minute

Y'all know that I like to post about the daily goings-on in my life. I like looking back on this space and remembering events I might've overlooked or details I might have forgotten. I don't post specifics about my background, though. I don't disclose where I work or where I went to school. I try to leave as many pre-Hustle and Whoa things out of Hustle and Whoa because otherwise, it becomes a collection of ramblings without even time to serve as a connecting theme but today I feel compelled to say something. It's blowing up my Facebook and it's plastered over all the sports pages because my undergrad has done something huge today: They fired their football coach and their president.

That might not seem super huge at first blush but it is and here's why:
  • We're in Texas. We like football and football dominates the south. If you want to be considered a legitimate college down here, then you have to have a good football team.
  • We did not have a good football team for a really, really long time. Then we got this new coach and we started getting better.Way better. Like national recognition better. 
Things seemed to be going great for a few years. We were moving up in the ranks. We were making strides in all of the fields except one kind of super important one. 

Disclaimer: I want to preface the rest of the post by saying that I love my school and despite its failings, I'm proud to have gone there and I'm proud of them now for doing the right thing, even if it comes too late. None of the following is intended to be interpreted as anything but love for my school and when you love something, you want it to be the best it can be. That's why I'm proud of the steps it's taking. Moving on....

Failures. Yes. Failure all over the place regarding sexual harassment and assault cases and reportings. The investigation conducted into these failings showed that they were extensive: from the athletics program, to the executive officials, to the Title IX office and even to the counseling services. The investigation uncovered purposeful cover-ups, victim-shaming and outright refusals to act on behalf of victims- even if only to investigate the complaint. 

I've gotten the chance  to talk to some of the people who were impacted and they are wounded. Not just from the attacks they suffered but because of the way they were treated by the people who were supposed to help them. In my own way, I can relate. Though I was never assaulted and though the Title IX office didn't even exist when I went there, there was a time when something happened to me and I wanted to report it.

I was caught with a boy in my room past visiting hours and though nothing sketchy was going on, I was raked over the coals. Administrators asked me if I knew God. If I knew what my future husband would say. One told me I was a whore. This 'confidential' meeting somehow spread and no matter what I did, no one would enforce the confidentiality. People started writing derogatory slurs on my dry erase board outside my dorm. They left trash outside the door. I appealed to an administrator who said, "I told you this would happen." That's it. Just more blame.

I wanted it to stop. I wanted the administrator to enforce the confidentiality she'd promised. I wanted out of the dorm that was always covered in strangers' trash. But all of the people who were supposed to help me managed to turn the blame on me. I was told over and over again that I had brought this on myself. I was heavily encouraged not to pursue action because it would only be to my detriment. The same people who let convicted rapists carry on without repercussions told me that if I filed a complaint against an administrator who was harassing me, if I tried to move out of the dorm that was bullying me relentlessly, that my indiscretion (having a boy in my room past visiting hours) would result in my losing my scholarship and nothing else.

Nothing else. I sought counseling at the school. The woman I spoke with over the phone told me, over my crying, that my problem would almost certainly exceed the 10 free sessions the school provided so that I should seek counseling elsewhere. When I turned to friend therapy, most of them didn't believe me. They didn't believe what the administrators had said. They thought I'd brought this on myself, too.

Because I was young and vulnerable and placed too much trust in authority figures, I listened. I listened and I internalized that blame and shame. I can't begin to tell you how long it took me to get over that. To be honest, I don't think I ever fully will. I think it's made me stronger but if I'm being honest, if I had a choice between strength and never having had to experience that, I'd pick the latter. Every. Single. Time.

I never talked about it outside of my immediate friend group and this is the most public way I've ever addressed it. I was dead silent when I should've been loud which is why I'm so proud of the people who came after me, who demanded justice and refused to be quieted. 

I am also proud of my school.

In the spirit of continuing honesty, I'm also sad. Winning was nice. Winning helped connect me with alumni and current students through shared pride and excitement. It was nice not having to deal with jokes about how badly we sucked when I met strangers. It was nice to avoid bad press for a while. If the athletics program did know about domestic violence and rape claims and did nothing- didn't report, didn't address, didn't even discuss, then this is what needs to be done.  I'm sad we're losing a talented coach but I am not sad we're doing what needs to be done. 

The ideal outcome would've been that no one tried to cover things up at all. That everyone, talented and powerful, acted the way they should've from the beginning. My sadness stems from the fact that this is not the reality we live in. 

I am proud to see my school apologize in front of the world, no matter what repercussions might come and I hope that any other school suffering from the same issues can join our ranks. I feel like this is a triumph. For victims everywhere and for my lost, confused 18-year-old self.

I thought triumph would feel better than this. For the longest time, I was fueled by anger. I longed for the day when the world would see the administration's failings like I had. I itched for the day when people would finally believe me and the school would have to own up for all the wrongs it had done. I thought that would fix it. Instead, I am realizing that no amount of triumph will ever erase what has happened. Triumph will not heal.

But there is something bright and vital about realizing that (hopefully) from this point on, there will be no more people at my school who fight against these same problems. No one else will have to heal from the same pain. The future stretches before them like blue skies and sunshine. That makes this all worth it.

Ally out. *mic drop* 

New Digs

Me trying to remember if there was one linen closet or two

I am quickly discovering that I am the worst at making decisions. When it's deciding where to eat or what to put on my sandwich, my indecision usually isn't a super big deal because the effects are relatively minimal but now that I'm out in the world making adult decisions, it is ROUGH.

J and I put a deposit down on a place we're renting in June. It has backyard access which is perfect for the dogs and it's in a super convenient place for his school and my work. Sounds great, right? Except the minute I put my deposit down, I started having all of these thoughts like: Was it really big enough? Can we fit everything in it? Will we have enough furniture to fill it? What if it's secretly the worst? What if we end up wishing we had gone for the bigger place? What if the layout is too funky or the kitchen is too light and GAH. I am simultaneously so excited and nervous and second-guessing and looking forward.

Is this a normal thing? I feel like I need a name for this but I've been racking my over-worked brain and I'm just coming up short.

Logically, I know that I picked it for a reason and if it doesn't suit us for whatever reason, we can start the hunt over again in a year. It's not really the biggest decision to make but this is my first post-grad, gainfully-employed person apartment and for some reason, it feels like a really big deal. 

Despite my tendency to overworry about everything, I am still excited. It's going to be nice to not have to drive an hour and a half to work! My car and my sanity are going to be so grateful. In the mean time, I'd love to hear any tips ya'll have for becoming better at decision-making! Because I'm getting the feeling this is going to be one of many.


The Ins and Outs of Being an Extra

While I was waiting for Bar results and without full-time employment, I picked up odd jobs to replenish my ever-depleting bank account. Being in Austin, there were a ton of opportunities for contract work that still gave me the opportunity to look for a full-time job. I don't know if I just hadn't noticed before or if it's been growing in recent years, but the film and television industry is taking (or has taken?) hold in Austin to the point where it's not impossible to find relatively common odd jobs. Be it crew, cast, or something in between, these film and television companies are waiting with open arms to feed you and pay you.

Over the past few months, I had the chance to get pretty regular work as an extra for ABC's American Crime. I got to meet incredible incredible people who are all out there hustling and making their dreams come true. I got to meet such talented cast and crew who's vision makes this unbelievable thing possible. And mostly, I got to get dolled up as a high school student and do completely random things I wouldn't get to do in normal life.

I know that before I started doing this time of work, I literally never noticed the people in the background. I never wondered how they got there. But it turns out, it's pretty easy. Basically....

You find a casting agency in your area. I think there's like, 4 or 5 in Austin and I know that there's an equally as strong if not stronger market in areas like Atlanta, New York City, LA (obvs), and Nashville. You can find them on Facebook most of the time and they'll post casting notices there. (Just make sure they're legit! Look at what type of projects they've had before and if you can, find people who have worked with them.)
Sample legit casting notice from a casting agency in Austin
If you look like what they're looking for, you submit your picture and contact information and wait. Most of the time, they'll get back to you in a few days and send you the call time, location, and any clothes they might need you to bring.

So you show up and on most major projects, you get a bomb breakfast buffet. Then you get sent to wardrobe. They inspect the outfits you brought and in my case, scrunch their noses and ask if I brought anything else. When I say "no," they roll out these big racks of clothes and I try things on until I/they stumble into the right outfit. Then hair and makeup.

Depending on the project, they might trust you to do your own. But if it's a period piece (Like this one J and I did!), they'll spend hours working on your hair and makeup. If it seems like this would be a super time consuming process, it is. Especially for the larger scenes where maybe 50-100 people are all lined up for their turn.

When you've been satisfactorily spruced up, you get sent to set! Sometimes you get to walk, but most times, you end up riding in unmarked white vans (super alarming the first time).


Set is a very quiet, chaotic place with about a million people trying to get their piece of the project just right. An Assistant Director puts you in a place, gives you an action and sometimes even an entire back story for your character. Again, if this sounds like a ridiculous extent to go to for the people who literally just stand in the background, it is. It is but I guess it works. Extras, as far as I've seen, take their work seriously. Partially because we sign a contract that says we will, partially because some want to become actors, and partially because we don't want to be that one person who messes it all up for everyone.

When "Background" then "Action" is called, we start doing our thing. Sometimes we do our thing for hours and hours and hours. Then we move to another scene. Sometimes we do our thing in buildings without AC or at 1 in the morning while we pretend it's really noon. Sometimes we do our thing bundled in winter clothing when it's 90 degrees outside or alternatively, in summer clothing when it's 30 degrees outside. But each time, it's a blast. It's almost as if that day's wrap makes you forget all of the annoying parts.

What Happens Next

The omission of the question mark was totally intentional. This post and the ones that'll follow are about what happens next. The 2016 chapter. So much has happened since the last time I updated ya'll. For a quick rundown:

  • I studied for the bar. It was BRUTAL.
  • I retook the bar.
  • I PASSED THE BAR!
  • I got a job in Houston...
  • .... so I moved.
  • I found an apartment here, too! 
  • My foster fail was diagnosed with heartworms from the Time Before I Got Her
  • My old man dog was given a clean bill of health
  • I started adulting full time again
And here we are. It doesn't seem like much now that I've typed it out but living through it seemed cataclysmic. Then again, most things do at the time they're happening. 

Now that my detour is over and now that I have gotten just the tiniest bit of free time back, I'd love to pick this story back up again, if only so that I can remember these stories farther down the road and so that I might be able to find other people who are going through similar things, too.

I'd also be lying if I said I didn't have a small blogging identity crisis over the last few months, too. I admire people who treat blogging as a business but for me, this was always meant to be a personal thing so being inundated with ads and reminders that I needed to increase my traffic or join the right affiliate program was exhausting. And the "Exhausted" field of my life is already full. 

I guess this is a new start for me and this tiny space then. I'm so, so excited for what happens next.

(A)Part

I've been lucky enough to find great groups of friends in every stage of life. High school, college, and law school have blessed me with friendships that have proved to grow stronger with time. This past week, I got to spend a few days with my high school, college, and law school friends and it was absolutely wonderful. It was the perfect antidote to months of holed-up studying and a perfect distraction for my tendency to stress. But each time we said goodbye, we were faced with the reality that we didn't know when or where we'd see each other again. And here's another pro and con. Pro: we don't know where we'll meet again. We could meet anywhere. Maybe another wedding. Maybe a city we've always wanted to visit. Con: We don't know when we'll meet again. Maybe in a few weeks or maybe in a few years. It's difficult to tell.

I found this quote that perfectly sums up the experience that I'm sure is not unique to me.


One of the greatest blessings of being young is that everyone you loved tended to live in a pretty small, geographical radius. Friends were either at school every day or 10 minutes away. Hanging out was a natural consequence of receiving an education. In college, it was a little harder. Some people went out of state but for me, most of my friends stayed close. They were either on my campus or an hour away which, when you're in college, feels like nothing when you're itching for an excuse to road trip.

Each step of my schooling has gone similarly until now, when the schooling is (mercifully) over. While my bar exam-taking, job-searching self has plenty of things to do, living close to old friends is not one of them. Hanging out now takes time. Requesting time off work or driving a few hours. Prepping pups or children for roadtrips or finding alternate care. It's definitely possible but it's not as easy.

And in the grand scheme of thing, this uncertainty is a small price to pay for the privilege of knowing these amazing women. Still, it'd be nice if for a few weeks at least, everyone could live in the same small town again, sharing gossip over caramel macchiatos and occasionally skipping class.

The Wait Begins

A little less than 4 months, this detour started. For four months, I worked. I stressed and read until it was finally time to take the test. Like last time, there was lots of stress, lots of reading, lots of neglecting TV shows I wanted to watch. Now it's the waiting part. Sitting. Looking for a job and trying not to replay the exam over and over and dwell on what went right and what went wrong.

That's the problem with a lot of time. It can either be a good time or a bad time, depending on your mood and what you make of it. This morning, I read this on Humans of New York:

"Time off is a space where you allow things to happen other than the known.”

I think that's the perfect way to look at the next few days, weeks, or however long this time off lasts.