There are few rituals Health and I abide by religiously: one is watching every game of Heath’s favorite sports team The Dallas Cowboys, one is playing foosball to decompress after work, and one is attending a weekly ceremony appropriately known as Movie Night.
Movie night started as Mad Men Mondays–a time when friends would come together to mooch off each other’s cable television and watch the previous night’s episode of Mad Men. But then the show went on an extensive hiatus and we were still itching for some way to pass the time with dinner and TV. (No books of course. A book club would be way to classy for the likes of us.) Thus, Movie Night was born.
Movie Night has become a staple for we doodlers for several reasons. First and foremost, it gets us out of the house and prevents us from being weird anti-social hermit crabs. (This is extremely important as Heath and I can often get sucked into home improvement projects and forget the rest of the world exists. We even bailed on SXSW this year to redo our kitchen, so it’s sort of a problem.) Second, it’s a terrific way to see films I probably never would have known existed, much less watched, on my own. Third, like watching an episode of Lost, we get some pretty good backstories on our friends. Selected movies are usually given some context for why they were chosen—whether it was a Christmas-time family tradition, a film that had an impact, changed someones way of thinking, etc. You can learn a lot about someone based on their movie choice for this most precious of traditions.
As you may have presumed, Movie Night operates as follows:
- A different person volunteers to host each week
- A specialized cuisine is prepared by the host (sometimes related to the film, sometimes not)
- A film is selected, screened, and discussed.
One truly enjoyable aspect of the ritual, is there are virtually no limitations or parameters set for what type of film can be screened. We’ve viewed everything from Ding-a-ling-Less, the part-comical, part-bizarre story of a fictional man who is, well, minus one ding-a-ling, to Waltz with Bashir, an astonishingly original animated documentary about the 1982 Lebanon war. (And oddly enough, both were chosen by the same Movie Night Patron.) Having no guidelines, no theme, no confines from which to operate within has allowed for some wonderful cinematic experiences that have been eye opening, contemplative, riotous, thoughtful and other diverse but intriguing adjectives.
I’ve started to view movie night as more than just a weekly social gathering. On paper, I suppose that’s the gist of it, but for me personally it has taken on a greater role. While not a totally original concept (I know, dinner-and-a-movie is a classic date-nightish staple in American culture), this weekly gathering of friends, communal cooking, humorous reflections and fresh cinematic experiences will forever be engrained in my memory as unique custom specific to a truly remarkable stage of my life. Most of us are existing in a weird, post-college transitional stage where we’ve all disembarked, in one form or another, from our own families and family customs but have yet to create our own. So in a sense, Movie Night is my family’s Saturday trip to the public library, my after-school ballet rehearsal, my summer trips to my grandparents’ house. It’s a custom I take great joy in experiencing, but know–like my ballet rehearsals—will eventually come to a close. I aim to cherish it while it’s here.
Today marks two years of blogging from the doodle house!
Documenting our lives and sharing the things that have entertained and inspired us has been tremendously rewarding. The blog has been a place where I can be creative and goofy and honest, and I’m so happy to have found such joy in this little hobby.
Some highlights of what we’ve done and seen in the last two years…
It’s been a thoroughly eventful two years. There’s no telling what the next two will hold.
I’ve posted briefly about my beautiful friend Courtney’s pre-wedding festivities, but I’d really be doing a disservice by not gushing about the big day itself, as it was the epitome of a truly Texas wedding*.
*To all my non-Texans, let me explain that by a “Texas Wedding” I do not mean that the aisles were filled with Southern ladies with big hair or that men were shooting pistols in the air when the bride and groom said “I do.” She didn’t ride a horse down the aisle or have a Dallas Cowboys themed wedding cake. When I say Texas wedding, I mean it highlighted all the things I love about being from Texas: a picturesque countryside, warm weather, greasy grub, and pride in your family’s roots and rituals.
From the minute Courtney and David got engaged, Courtney knew the only place she could see herself getting married was in her parents’ backyard. They live on a couple acres of rolling green prairie a few miles outside of our hometown of Denton. I squealed when Courtney told me. In Denton, there are few places prettier than Courtney’s house, and no place more fitting for the strawberry blonde tomboy-turned-tender to tie the knot.
The day she and David became betrothed was indubitably perfect. The breeze was strong enough that it cooled the air and kept mosquitos at bay, but not so strong that it blew our carefully crafted coifs off kilter. A string quartet played traditional wedding hymns as she descended the aisle, and two matching flower girls led the way, leaving silky white rose petals in their path. Truthfully, the ceremony was so perfectly put together, it felt almost like I had been cast in a David’s Bridal commercial. How could a ceremony really be that serene?
As is customary, a reception followed. Courtney’s was beneath a tent, its ceiling festively adorned with lights. The sun set behind them as they shared their first dance, and then guests celebrated with frozen margaritas, beer and barbecue. When it came time to dance, the groomsmen loosened their ties while the the bridesmaids traded their heels for sparkly Tom’s gifted to us by the bride. At the end of the night the bride and groom boarded a limo and rode together to their new home.
On paper, the wedding was very traditional, and I think that’s why I loved it so. Texans are big on tradition and keeping things at a certain status quo, which usually jerks my chain, but not today.
When I got married, there were particular elements I knew I wanted or didn’t want based on what was considered “customary” wedding fair. I made a stink about not wanting a lingerie shower and opted to forgo a bouquet toss in favor of more dance time. I knew I wanted to walk myself down the aisle and I banned country music from being played at my reception. I prided myself on being what I thought was a quirky, outside-the-box, not your average-old-everyday-bride.
But Courtney and David’s wedding made me see “traditional” doesn’t always equal cliche. Their wedding felt truly genuine. Though following old traditions can sometimes feel tired or trite, there’s a place for things that have been handed down. There’s value in reliving the same customs as your mother, grandmother, and so on. It’s not about copying what’s been done before or following a pre-determined path of what’s expected or appropriate. Traditions become traditions for a reason; they can pay tribute while being personal and be inventive while following suit. Sure, cake cuttings and champagne toasts have been done before, but who really wants to toast with fresca and cut into wedding casserole anyway?
Cheers to Courtney and David!
Last week I posted about my mini internal struggle with balancing my desire to nest and create a sense of home with my desire to explore and travel and enjoy new experiences. The debate got me thinking about what “home” is in the first place and what things, thoughts, people, food, etc. make me feel most at home. Heath, for one. And the doodles. Any place where breakfast tacos are attainable within 5 minutes. Yes. Those things feel pretty homey to me.
And then I thought of Laura and Casey. Two friends who know all too well that home can take on various forms. Most recently “home” has been The White Buffalo, an old school bus converted to run on vegetable oil that the Laura and Casey share with fellow Bloodroots Barter bandmates and their dog Roamona when they are on tour.
The bus has traveled with them all across the North East and while the window views, the weather, the roads and the people are ever changing, the White Buffalo remains a symbol of home. There’s no flat screen TV or king-sized bed. There’s no wall of family photos or matching curtains or perfectly coordinating vintage decor. Instead, it’s a place of refuge from the stresses of touring, a familiar nook in a sea of the strange, a place to feel safe and comfortable among friends. There is little I can think of more like home than that.
While the White Buffalo won’t be home to the BRB forever, it’s been a beautiful symbol of how home is a state of mind.
Today I shall tell you the tale of Scooby, the newly adopted dog of our friends Zack and Caitlin, who spent a recent weekend at the doodle house playing the role of awkward stepchild.
Scooby is a 3-year-old mutt that might be part German Shepherd, might be part Shiba Inu. We don’t really know. Such is the fun of adopting a mystery dog.
We dog sit all the time for other mutts, but what made Scooby’s case special is that he was a fairly new dog to us and his “forever family.” Scooby had been bounced around through a few other foster families over his life so you never quite know what to expect. So allow me to let you know how some of the weekend played out.
Chapter One: The Chase. In addition to being part dog, Scooby might also be part bunny or antelope because your boy can jump. We learned this when, within 5 minutes of being in the backyard, he promptly cleared the fence to chase after a neighbor cat. (Clearly Scoobs has some long-running hatred toward felines because there was no convincing him that this cat was not worth the effort. Come on buddy, there are 4 chickens and 2 dogs to play with, why are you wasting your efforts on this dopey cat?)
The escape sent Heath into panic mode…panic along the lines of misplacing someone’s child or wrecking someone else’s car, but 10 times worse. Is there any feeling more gut-wrenching than losing your friend’s new dog in less than 24 hours? Nope. Definitely not.
The cat took off toward a busy intersection, followed closely by Scooby, and Heath trailing not too far behind. The cat made a right cut toward some houses and led Scooby to a corner. (Hallelujah!) Scooby tried to break free and continue the chase, but Heath made an epic lunge at the Scoobster and the event was over as quickly as it has begun. Scooby was back in custody and Heath had the road burn to prove it. CRISIS AVERTED. Note to self: maybe don’t let Scooby in the backyard without a leash.
Chapter Two: The Affair. Stella gets along with most dog folk, in fact she’s kind of a flirt. She’s never met a dog she didn’t like and Scooby was no exception. This is not a problem except that it drove Wyatt crazy. He’s not one to “show affection” if you catch my drift, but when Scooby was in town, Wyatt was all about letting him know that Stella was his gal. Though that didn’t keep Stella from falling into bed with this mysterious stranger. Wyatt didn’t take it so well.Luckily, they have worked things out since then.
Chapter Three: The Good Dog.
I love dogs and I love to be helpful, so volunteering to take on Scooby for the weekend while his parents were gone was a no-brainer for me. It wasn’t until his family had left that I realized this was a big deal…for us and for Scooby.
Until Zack and Caitlin came along, Scooby never really had a stable home environment. And now, the only people who ever really gave him the proper attention he needed, were taking off for four days. Who could really know what effect that would have on a little pup with abandonment issues? Plus, as we saw with the cat incident, we didn’t know all of Scooby’s quirks yet. We didn’t know how he would act in tense situations, or around loud noises, or in the rain. (The list goes on…) Anyone with a pet knows that there are dozens of factors that can sends animals into a tizzy, and there was so much we didn’t know about Scooby, his personality, and his past.
So let me clarify my “awkward stepchild” comment, by saying that Scoobs is a really good dog. There were a few rough patches (or should I say “RUFF” patches? Yes I should.) which is to be expected, but all-in-all he was a welcomed guest. He is amazingly friendly and playful (sometimes too much so) and was a very fast learner. He never chewed anything or had any house accidents and that’s more than I can say about Stella and Wyatt.
I applaude Z&C for taking on the challenge of adopting an older, larger dog, rather than shelling out $$$ for designer dog puppies like we did (yes, I am aware that we are going to Hell). It takes a tremendous amount of courage and patience and love to be able to take on the title of adoptive parents. And in the end, I think Zack, Caitlin and Scooby will all be better for it. Way to be.
This weekend I finally FINALLY got to set eyes upon my friend Heather’s gorgeous grownup apartment in Dallas. She’s been telling me tales of her fabulous abode for a year or so now and (because I’m the worst friend ever) I finally got around to seeing it. She wasn’t kidding. It was pretty spectacular. Decor was thought out and premeditated…not purchased on a whimsy like some folk do (moi). Way to go Heather, on being a real deal grownup and having a covetous apartment that I want to tell the world wide web all about.
Mom to me: So in between all of this traveling back and forth to Denton for wedding responsibilities and working on house projects, when are you finding time to have fun and do your own thing?
Good point, Mom. It is high time I started being way more selfish and irresponsible.(What? That’s not what you meant? Well, that’s how I’m taking it.) I mean, when your own mother points out the fact that you are kind of being a lame 20-something-year-old, you really owe it to yourself to pick up the partying pace. Don’t mind if I do take a weekend off from painting and pruning to indulge in some merriment.
The first non-home-improvement related activity of the weekend: backyard party and musical extravaganza.
Our friends Tristan (musician) and Monte (intellectual) hosted a backyard shindig to celebrate the former’s birthday. Among other things, their late-night get-together featured a keg-loving kitty and live performances by Your Friendly Ghost. We’ve experienced a healthy variety of interesting party panoramas (including a cheap beer taste test and drinking among living manikins at The Gap to name only two), and this one lacked the grandeur of some of our other weekend romps in terms of food or fanfare, but was nonetheless a thoroughly enjoyable evening (completely free of drying Spackle or matching paint colors). After all, it’s not every day you’re granted front-row seats to an exclusive musical performance from one of Austin’s most talented up-and-coming bands. Point, Robinsons.
For day 2 of our vacation from renovation we went to the Live Oak Brewing Company on the East side for the local microbrewery’s 15th anniversary celebration. I attended an eerily similar event last year which I blogged about here. The biggest difference between that event and this one is mostly (and by mostly, I mean totally) in the numbers (14 years vs.15 years). The party was pretty much identical to the previous celebration…from the music talent, to the weird school bus themed bounce house, to the tortilla wrapped bratwurst. But it was free beer (the best in Austin), free food and perfect weather…so not at all something at which to turn up your nose.
From there we wandered to campus to hear Minus the Bear play at 40 Acres Fest. The annual concert is free for all, and in the past has hosted much bigger players like Little Richard and The Roots. This year’s show was much more scaled down than others I had experienced, and probably drew about 1/4 of the crowd, though even then, I’d venture to guess there were 400 or so MTB fans in attendance… mostly (as to be expected) students. Heath and I felt like old codgers in our folding lawn chairs off to the side of most of the concert action, but still had to hand it to ourselves for making it out after several hours of day drinking.
Lucky for us, sound was still pitch perfect from our side seating…AND we got to see the most ridiculously huge Texas flag hanging from the main building and acting as a backdrop to the emo/rock music. So, no curtain hanging this weekend, but definite flag hanging for sure…in fact, I’m fairly certain I’ve met my Texas flag quota for the year.
On Sunday we finally broke. We had to stop at Home Depot to get a few knick knacks for some side projects we have planned for later in the week. After all, we’re only human and can’t be expected to stay away from our calling for long. So I guess the weekend wasn’t COMPLETELY without thought of home improvement projects.
To make amends for our infidelity, we opted to spend the later morning/early afternoon taking in Sunday brunch and cocktails at Nomad. The neighborhood bar has time and time again won awards from The Austin Chronicle for having the best bar staff and being one of the best neighborhood bars, and it’s my prediction it won’t be too long before it gets a nod for its brunch. The brunch, by Mark Rivas Catering, is $13 for all you can eat brunchy goodness that includes a waffle bar, omelet bar, fruit bar and 23480234234 other options that get me in a tizzy. Admittedly, I probably love it so much because it’s walking distance from the house and has an option for bottomless mimosas, but since moving to the new casa, it’s been tough to abstain from brunch binges at Nomad.
And just like that, our weekend was done. We tended to the chickens and watched the latest episode of Mad Men, but other than that the house was unchanged. On Monday morning, the old house looked just as she did on Friday afternoon.
I know when my mother said we should take time for ourselves, she didn’t so much mean “take time to party, and sleep in, and be lazy.” She meant take time to travel and explore and experience new things, which is still on the docket for a weekend in the very near future; but heavens, I did enjoy my weekend of reckless disregard for my status as “homeowner” and drinking adult beverages with child carelessness. Still, I might be a little excited about returning to my rightful role of diligent caretaker to the doodle manor in the coming days.
Do you mean fall into the Gap?
And no, again. I’m not talking about a trippy dream but rather the Free Drink Party hosted at our friendly neighborhood Gap last Friday. Gap celebrated…winter(?) last weekend with a free-for-all party that featured free beer and cocktails, food from Roll On Sushi, a live DJ and tons of living, breathing, walking (no talking, though) models. I was a little hesitant to attend an FDP at the Gap (the place where I bought most of my childhood back-to-school clothes), but it turns out combining seasonal styles with seasonal brew is a genius publicity stunt. Midway through beer number two, we started filling our mental shopping cart with all the scarves, mittens and sweaters we could handle. Not sure how many of us returned to Gap the next day to pick up the items we eyed the day before, but its safe to say Gap made off with a small fortune.
Job well done, Gap, for creating as fine a sweater as you do a party.
I finally FINALLY crossed “See an ACL taping” off my Austin bucket list.
Okay, okay. It wasn’t exactly a taping, but it was a sold out show at the ACL Moody Theater where they do film concerts by acclaimed artists like Arcade Fire, Fleet Foxes and, in this case, Wilco (who had taped the same set list at the venue the night before). And it wasn’t exactly at the same location where legendary artists like Johnny Cash, The Allman Brothers Band and David Byrne (I’m excluding hundreds of others here) recorded ACL shows in the past*, but it was nevertheless a pretty remarkable experience.
For starters, Wilco is a band I’ve loved since Brian Jackson first burned one of their songs for me on a CD in the 10th grade. I’ve continued to love and appreciate them as I’ve gotten older, so getting the chance** to see them up close and personal at an intimate venue in my very own city was a pretty incredible experience. They deliver a show that’s as tranquil as it is toe tapping and as psychedelic as it is down-to-earth. They love their fans, love their music and love to play together–which makes for a pretty incredible concert, if you ask me (and you do, because you are reading my blog at this moment).
As hinted earlier, the venue does its part to add to the “oh my gosh, I can’t believe what I’m seeing” experience. The layout, lighting, and acoustics are mind-blowing. The location is in the middle of the hippest Austin action. And even though the new venue is less than a year old, you can’t help but feel like you might be witnessing history.
Check out photos of other live tapings at The Moody Theater below by Mark Collins.
*For the unfamiliar, the studio where public broadcasting station KLRU films the wildly popular Austin City Limits performances, after which the festival is named, relocated from the UT campus to a new theater at the W hotel downtown.
**By “chance” I mean an incredibly generous friend offered me her extra ticket, what a gal. Thanks a ton!
High school sweethearts Reese and Jordan are engaged to be wed! Check out engagement pics we took last weekend during a walk around campus. Loveable dog Dixie makes a few guest appearances.