The Weekly Happy Hour: Peche

For happy hour this week, we continued making our way down that 'Best Austin Happy Hour' list and ended up at Peche! It's such a weirdly shaped place (long and narrow), that it's super easy to just walk right past. The trick is to look for the giant sign shaped like a wine bottle (these people clearly speak my language).

The restaurant is decorated like the set of a fancy version of Series of Unfortunate Events, with antique pieces punctuated by the occasional, extremely strange artwork. 

Their happy hour consists of $5 cocktails (eligible ones have astericks next to them) and half priced appetizers (also marked with astericks) and everything is i-n-c-r-e-d-i-b-l-e. Karls and Nat got the Royal Bee's Knees which is gin, honey, and lemon and oh my goodness, it tastes like honey-sweetened lemonade and packs the punch of straight gin. Not ordering that drink has become one of my life's regrets (though the French75 was pretty killer, too). 

The appetizers are huge and perfect for sharing! The size of the fry boat itself is overwhelming (in a good way). 

All in all, it was the perfect place coming off of a less-than-perfect week. Stressful weekends, never ending doc review, and the looming rainclouds that are the pending bar results were weighing heavily on my mind and it was nice to be able to vent about it. Plus, since we've all started working, it's been hard finding times that our schedules align. All of this work-life balance people talk about is no joke.

What are some ways that you all keep in touch with friends during the week? I'm excited to hear how other people handle the mid-week slump!

Overall rating: 4.5/5

10 Things to Have in Your Work Bag

During the week, I use my work bag as a combo purse/life saver. There's the typical stuff (phone, wallet, keys) but over the past few years, I've narrowed down the top 10 things that have been the most helpful.

Note: I have used and can personally vouch for all of the above products. They're bomb. 
1/  2 / 3 / 4 / 5
6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10
Favorite pens/pencils
Pretty sure this goes without saying, but the amount of times people ask you for a pen is truly shocking. Paired with the fact that you'll want to write something down at the most inopportune times, there's no replacement for having trusty pens on hand. 

Small notepad
I love using small notepads to jot down some work ideas and sticking it in my work bag in case I want to reference them at home. It's also great to pull out at meetings or at court (if applicable) and it's size won't discourage you from taking it everywhere.

I could devote a whole post to planners but for now, I just want to say that whatever works for you, stick with it. And stick it into your work bag. You'll want to keep track of deadlines, meetings, appointments, etc. and you'll want to be able to whip it out and reference it immediately. 

Eye drops
This is especially a must for the contact wearers in the group. Especially during allergy season, my eyes/contacts are prone to drying out and there's nothing more embarrassing than looking like you're on drugs when really, you're just uncomfortable. If it applies, spare contacts are a good thing to have on hand as well. 

Because headaches will always come at the worst times. 

If you're lucky, your work might let you listen to music in which case, these are a gift from the heavens for being able to research for long stretches of time. Even if your work isn't as music-friendly as others, these'll be nice for the walk from the parking garage. 

I have a bad habit of rubbing my eyes, or blinking too extremely or something, and the end result is that the dark circles under my eyes are on display for the world to see. I hate looking like I've just stayed away for 7 straight days at 5 pm so I always carry some blotters and concealers with me. Also key if you're going anywhere trendy post-work! 

Hair ties and bobby pins
I concentrate best with my hair out of my face. I have no idea why. But I still like to wear my hair down on occasion so I carry spare bobby pins with me to pin it back when I need to get things done! You also never know when your hair will just starting annoying you, when you'll encounter an unexpected gust of wind, etc.

Hand cream 
I don't know if it's just me, but my hands always start feeling dry after a long day at work, especially in the winter. No matter how much water I drink, I feel like I start drying out like a raisin, hands first! This is the hand cream I carry around and I promise, this is a hand cream that means business. The good news is that because it's so moisturizing, a little bit goes a long way!

See above discussing the "raisin effect"

These are the things that work best for me and what I would suggest using as a 'starter kit.' Along the way, you'll take away things you never use and add things I never thought of and your work bag will become your own. Keep in mind to invest in a good, sturdy bag. This thing'll become your best friend in no time. 

Keller's Sweet 16

On September 26, Keller turned 16 years old! If he were a human, he'd be zooming around in a car right now but because he's a dog, he's instead curled up under a fleece next to me, watching old Community episodes.

I adopted Keller 10 months ago and every day, I am consistently reminded of how great a decision that was. 

The Origin Story

Keller was found as a stray when he was 14, his eyes and ears clouded with infections, missing half his teeth, afraid, alone, and feeling very uncooperative. Initially, he was sent to the city shelter, where his age, his poor health, and his 'aggressiveness' immediately landed him on the euthanasia list. The big animal rescue in town, Austin Pets Alive, took him in and cleaned him up. They found out he was completely deaf, partially blind, underweight and gave him the treatment he needed. In exchange for their hospitality, my scared little dude tried to bite them. 

By all accounts, he was very unadoptable. He flourished in his foster home, becoming the sassy, very vocal, very loyal pup he is today, but after over a year, I'm sure his foster owner thought he was going to be there for life. 

Around Month 13, I was at a coffee shop, browsing through available dogs as a method of procrastination, when I saw Keller's picture and description on the website. He was old. He was crotchety and to me, he was absolutely perfect. One month later he was my dog! The first dog I'd ever had on my own and goodness, was it awful. 

The transition period was hard. He didn't know me and I'm sure he was having flashbacks to the lost time he was abandoned. He shook in his kennel and shied away from the touch. He sang the song of his people at 3 am and took approximately 20 minutes to find a satisfactory spot to pee. He hated walking on concrete but he also complained when I picked him up. For about 2 months, we lived in this stalemate and I was convinced he was going to be the one to cave first.

I was right. Eventually, he started to warm up to me. The carrying he had hated became his preferred mode of transportation. I found out he loved to sunbathe and to watch TV on the couch, never more than an inch or two away from me. Now, he is my best friend. Yes, an elderly Chihuahua Mix is my best friend. 

Every day, I am thankful for the shelter that did so much for him and I am thankful for the people who were patient and kind enough to get my boy to his 16th birthday. And if you're considering a dog but aren't sure you want the high-energy craziness of a younger dog, I would recommend checking out your local shelters for the senior pups. All of those myths about them not bonding with their new owners or about them being boring are wildly off base. 

Keller gets into more shenanigans than I would have ever guessed and every day, he politely requests to be tucked into bed next to me, and keeps me company through the mornings. He gets so excited he runs in circles when I come home and he enjoys a healthy dose of Hulu (Fall TV lineups though....). 

Happy birthday, my first dog! Thank you for being you. 

The Panic Room

This past weekend, my best friend from undergrad, Meelz, and her husband came down to Austin to drink autumnal-themed coffee drinks and visit the Austin Panic Room. 

When I first heard about panic rooms my first thought was 'That movie with Jodie Foster? Why would I want to reenact that movie with Jodie Foster?' Thankfully (or not, depending on your views of that movie), that's not what this was. The Panic Room would be more aptly called the Puzzle Room because basically, you're locked in a set of rooms for one hour and you have to solve puzzles, find clues, and break codes in order to get out.

We chose the Museum Room (arbitrarily, because we are bad decision makers) and when we got there, found out it had a 33% success rate. Properly encouraged, we were the brief by our "contact on the outside." She explained that we had one hour to find the most priceless artifact then unlock the doors to escape.

While it didn't seem that difficult in theory, 30 minutes in, we had two locks undone (and that was because one was unlocked when we got in there). What makes the room so tricky is that some clues are hidden behind locks so you don't have all of the necessary information right off the bat. And some of the clues you do get off the bat can't be understood without the help of clues to be uncovered later.

Minutes 30-45, we got the majority of the locks and it seemed like we were definitely going to escape when we hit the last lock. We were allowed to ask our "contact on the outside" 7 questions and we used our last one on figuring out how to bust this lock. I'm pretty sure we asked 10 questions disguised as one and even then, we were struggling.

With 2 minutes to go, we all collectively lost our cool and fought the urge to turn over furniture and barrel through the door. Luckily, Meelz kept her wits about her and figured out the final code. With 56 seconds, we escaped.

It took about an hour for the adrenaline to die down and after a meal at Hopdoddy's (where we were too busy singing angsty songs from the early 2000s to take pictures), she and her husband shipped off but not before asking when we could go back.

The Panic Room is definitely a fun, super unconventional way to spend an afternoon, whether it be with friends, family, or a group of strangers. So what are you waiting for? Brush up on your code-breaking skills and book your tickets!

The Weekly Happy Hour: Malaga

Like every Wednesday before it, I was really looking forward to tasty drinks and snacks by the time I got off work. This time, we tried a place downtown called Malaga. It's a tapas place and I'm not typically a big fan of tapas, so I was a bit wary. First, like most places downtown, parking is awful. I was lucky enough to get a close spot but it was only after 15 minutes of driving in big circles. Make sure to stock up on your patience before heading out to this locale.

Snapped this on my 5th go round past this light 
The restaurant itself was nice though. There were tons of people sitting out on the patio and it's on twinkle light-lit 2nd St. so why not? They have $5 sangria (4 different flavors!) and $6 white and red white. There were beer specials too, but I'll be honest, I was too distracted by the sangrias to check their price!

Malaga also has certain tapas on happy hour so we got the cheese plate to split with the table, some calamari and bread with some kind of tomato spread on top. Everything was good but the real standouts are: the free, warm, continuously reappearing bread and the sauce that came with the calamari. Still thinking about it.

See the sauce hiding on the back of the calamari plate? Total game changer.

I'm not sure that I'd go here if it was full price but it's definitely a happy hour worth checking out, especially if you're in the area (and don't have to drive!). Specials are till 7, which is great if you're having to work late.

Overall rating: 3.5/5

Dog Days

(To offset some of the more word-heavy posts, here's some pictures of dogs!)

As awesome as summer is, I've always been more of a 'fall' person. That could be because a Texas 'fall' is the same as everyone else's summer. If that's the case then you guys are lucky folks, because we're going on the end of September here and it is still outrageously hot. While I may not be the biggest fan of this season, Windy definitely is so we're trying to squeeze the most out of what's left of summer by hitting up parks as much as we can.

This past weekend, we were in Houston so my sister invited us to a dog park that recently opened. Apparently, it's the most expensive dog park in the city, but let me tell you, that money did not go towards pet clean up stations. Beyond the serious need for more bags and trashcans, the park itself was pretty nice!

I guess they had just installed new grass or something, because orange fences EVERYWHERE. 

There was a water feature with fountains so dogs could cool off and plenty of grass for them to run around in. Water + dirt/grass = mud though, so don't be the fool I was and wear sandals. Tennis shoes all the way.

In typical Winnie fashion, she wanted to play fetch the entire time and ignore all the other dogs at the park. I can throw a ball from underneath a tree though, so I don't mind.

There were also plenty of little dogs soaking up the shade who seemed to be having the time of their lives, so little dog owners, don't be discouraged! This place is great for everyone.

In the interest of full disclosure, I haven't been to another dog park in Houston so I can't compare, but this was a pretty decent park. There are benches for the humans and nice spaces for the dogs.

This may easily be Winnie's favorite part of summer, but I'm still anxiously awaiting the next season, which is today!


At the risk of getting too serious too fast, I want to talk about anxiety.

Growing up, I was an extremely anxious child. I worried about everything, from what people thought of me, to school work, to after school things, to my interactions, to every worst case scenario ever. It was annoying, but it really wasn't unmanageable. There was enough distraction to counteract the stress and life was pretty normal.

My sophomore year of college, though, was a rough one. I had a close friend do something seriously awful to me that messed me up in more ways than I can count. Her actions ended up turning my entire dorm against me (I kid you not). I was ridiculed. Bullied so much that I hated coming back at the end of the day. I cried a lot. It was really, really hard. Somehow though, I got through that year. And the year after. And each year, the immediate effects faded bit by bit.

But like all traumatic events, this one left its own kind of stain. Though I didn't put two and two together until years later, this shot my anxiety through the roof. If I was worried about my interactions before, about worst case scenarios and trust issues, that was nothing compared to the way I felt now. Tiny triggers would lead to full scale panic attacks, leaving me feeling like I wanted to rip my hair out, like I couldn't breathe, like there was a 10,000 pound rock on my chest, like my heart was racing so fast it was going to take off into the atmosphere. I'd never had a panic attack before and the first time it happened, it terrified me. I didn't know what it was, but I definitely knew I didn't want it to happen again.

But it did. Again and again. Sometimes I could identify the cause. Sometimes I couldn't. Trust, other people, and my interactions with them tended to trigger the attacks more than other things. I sincerely, sincerely felt that everyone was out to hurt me. That everyone was just biding their time to do me wrong. I was suspicious of my friends. Of strangers. I have no idea how anyone stuck by me during that time. I must've been awful.

Over the years, the suspicion faded a little, but it never went away. And that is what became 'normal' for me. I don't think I have to tell you guys this, but that is not normal. Panic attacks, and suspicion, and festering wounds are not normal.

I finally, finally went to therapy and learned how to curb the attacks. Then how to curb the suspicion and holy cow, I am happier than ever. I'm not sure that the anxiety will ever completely go away, but I have learned how to deal with it and that is all I can ask for.

There's only so long we can live as the product of others' actions. There is only so much we can allow circumstance to change us before we have to find our way back. And maybe this post doesn't really have a point, but if you're out there and this sounds familiar, I have a message for you: You are not crazy. You are not broken. But this is not the way life should be. You deserve better. We all do.

Some things I've found that help:

1. Lavender-scented anything
2. Candles
3. Coloring or any other mindful activity
4. Meditation
5. Exercise
6. Animal snuggles
7. Journaling

Let me know if there's anything that's worked for you!

Measuring Autumns

I measure my life in autumns. There's something about the first crisp breeze that brings nostalgia with it, pulling out the memories from the year before and dusting them off. Maybe it's because fall is reliably the same every year. It knocks down the leaves. It signals the start of football, of cooler days, and of sweeter drinks. It's the sameness of the season that allows me to measure the differences in everything else.

It was my senior year of high school when I realized that the first hint of autumn reminded me of something, or more specifically, of all of the autumns before it. Day by day, changes are hard to notice, but autumn by autumn, they become more clear. I could remember the person I was four seasons ago, and I knew that, one year from that moment, I would remember the person I was then. So I memorized the moment and it has stayed with me.

The cool air. Just the tiniest oasis in thick, muggy air. The promise of a new school year and all the adventures it could bring paired with an acute feeling of loss for the year that had passed. I was standing in a parking lot lit by stadium lights. I was gross. Sweaty. Holding a flute and a water jug and realizing that I could not picture my life 365 days from that moment. Day by day, I knew what my future held but viewed in giant leaps, my lack of permanency because acutely noticeable.

365 days from that moment, I would be at some unknown college with unknown friends. I would be taking unknown classes, filling my time with unknown hobbies. The only thing that was certain was that I wouldn't be there. I would never be there again.

That was the first autumn I measured.

Each autumn since has been the same crossroads of what's past and what's to come. Each fall is bittersweet and promising and comfortingly, the same. Now, like back then, I cannot imagine what my life will be like 365 days from this moment. I will be working some unknown job. I will have unknown friends. I will be helping unknown clients, living in an unknown place. The only thing that is certain is that I won't be here. I will never be here again.

Maybe that (along with a healthy dose of pumpkin spice) is what makes the moment so sweet.

Not a Student, Not Yet a Lawyer

Basically, in this weird in-between, I'm a law clerk. But like an advanced law clerk that is expected to produce solid work because I have a law degree. Mostly, I research. Then I write about what I've researched. I also review documents. Thousands and thousands of pages of documents.

So you want to be a lawyer? Say hello to Doc Review.

They always joke when you're in law school, that the first year of your associate life will be spent in a windowless room reviewing documents. I now understand it's funny because it's partially true. When you submit a request for production to the other side, who ostensibly does not want to give you helpful information, they inundate you with documents. I think someone once told me this is technically illegal, but it's all 'done in good faith.' (You can almost hear the pitiful, "I didn't know what you'd find helpful" traveling across the expanse to your ears).

This week was sort of a crash course in doc review for me. I had the task of reviewing 3000 pages to redact any confidential information. It wasn't too bad since I was the second person to go through these stacks. On Monday though, we're expected to get over a hundred thousand pages and that's when the real fun begins. I think if you amassed all of the documents I've produced in my lifetime, it would still not total a hundred thousand pages so I have no ideas what those homies have been doing the past few years.

REGARDLESS, this is the kind of work you can look forward to doing your first few months out and I repeat, it's not that bad. If you're nosy, like me, it's kind of interesting. You can get lost in the stories the pages tell and law suits always involve super scandalous things (though law school may have warped my definition of 'scandalous').

So yes, I will read every email Homie A has sent the past two years and I will wonder how his curtain buying excursion with his wife panned out. I hope you've lead an interesting few years, Homie A or it's going to be a very long week for me.

The Weekly Happy Hour: Contigo

I've been lucky enough that 4 out of my 5 good friends have stayed in the same city as me after graduation. I've been even luckier to have made some new friends since. But perhaps the best luck of all comes in this tradition we've adopted: the weekly happy hour. I know we're far from the only people to do this, but my goodness, am I glad we do.

Typically, it's on Wednesday which is the perfect day in my opinion. The novelty of the week has worn off and you've probably already spent all day thinking it was Thursday, only to be disappointed each and every time you're reminded it's Wednesday. No matter how much you love your job (and I do, so I can say this with certainty), Wednesdays are the worst. See also NeverShoutNever (verifying that Wednesdays are indeed the worst).

It's on these plateaus of days that we've decided to do our Happy Hour and I'll tell you friends, it is worth it. Not so much for the drinks or the delicious snacks, but for the company and commiseration that you get during the consumption process. It's a perfect de-stresser. A power-up for the rest of the week, if you will.

Right now, we choose our locales based on their food specials and we're using this list as our guide. If you're in Austin, I highly recommend it. It takes the stress out of picking a place.

The key to a successful happy hour though? Try to avoid a Thursday hangover. There's still two more days in the week to go!

Happy Friday!

PS- If you're in Austin, Contigo has a happy hour worth checking out. $1 fried chicken until it runs out!

Rating: 3/5

Hello There, Blog

I have this bad habit of inspiration with no follow through. That's why this blog was registered about a month ago and this is the first post. There's still something about commitment, after all these years, that still gives me pause. But I'm learning, I promise.

This is going to be Hustle and Whoa. A sort of chronicle/to do/not to do/how to guide of these first cautious steps into real life adulthood.

Here's the sitch: I just graduated law school a few months ago. I get my bar results back (Lord, help me) in a few more months. I'm at an internship that lasts until then and afterwards, it's the big bad world at large. In the mean time, I've got a boyfriend in Houston (and he's taking care of our two cats, Charlie and Rufus), I've got two dogs here (Keller and Windy), I've got siblings, parents, friends, bills, student loans, and a cautionary, positive outlook on the future. So I guess this blog is about all of those things: the #hustle (you already know) and the whoa! (for the happy surprises along the way). Plus it's a pretty good movie. (Taraji + Terrence for life).

I appreciate all of the luck you have to spare and in return, I promise to make the risky moves (for educational purposes, of course).

Follow my blog with Bloglovin