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Saturday, October 1, 2016

my experience with a cult

I wasn't entirely sure what I was getting myself into. I'd been thinking about it for months; hearing other people's experiences and enlightenments tempted me, but still, I was hesitant.

I was confident I wouldn't fit in. I would be an overweight, lumbering CrossFitter and weightlifter, wading into a sea of skinny white basics.

But, if I ever wanted to try SoulCycle, now was my opportunity.

Picture totally downloaded from soulcycle.com


I've been a member of an online workout support group-of-sorts for about a year. I join in the online discussions, "like" the other members' photos and videos on Facebook and Instagram, and offer encouragement if someone seems to need it. But, whenever the topic of the monthly meet-up/workout is broached, I fall silent.

These women had become my sisters, my confidantes and my support group, but I was terrified to workout with them. What if I'm the biggest one there? What if I can't keep up? What if, once again, I feel like the fat one out?

But I knew SoulCycle was dark and arranged in lines, so people were predisposed to not see you. The leader of the online group had managed to swing a free class for us, which rounded up the utter annihilation of my excuses.

I stepped through the glass doors, from the harshly lit, hot and humid Houston into the welcoming, cheerful - and somehow also serene - foyer. I was terrified, immediately surrounded by beautiful, fit people. But, they managed to put me at ease with smiles that offered comfort and inclusion.

I signed in, received my shoes, and headed down the white hall - passing the bright yellow Big Ass balloons that indicated a party was afoot - to the co-ed locker room. (Adjacent to the separate men's and women's bathrooms and showers. Phew.)

Picture totally downloaded from soulcycle.com


Amid the beautiful women (no really. Like, stupid beautiful.) in the, again, all-white, locker room, my fresh comfort and confidence began to waver. The Kool-Aid offered to me by the receptionist's smile was wearing off. But, my cup was quickly refilled by both the veterans and the newbies who helped me find my locker and showed me how to operate it.

With my belongings in stow and my feet in borrowed shoes, I clacked, water bottle and towel in hand, back down the hall to the, thankfully sparsely populated, studio. I found my bike, situated my water bottle and climbed to the seat.

Oh no. 

The seat was too high, too far back from the handlebars. I tried to get off but the foreign shoe had clipped itself into the pedal, refusing to release me from the cult's grasp. Panicked, I looked around frantically. Again, I was greeted with a smile. "Having trouble?" asked the friendly cyclist pedaling away caddy-corner to me. I managed a nod. "Don't worry; they'll set you right up."

Her hand shot in the air. "It's happening!"

Immediately a friendly face with a yellow SOUL tee was by my side, guiding my foot out of the locked position and showing me how to adjust the bike's three components: the seat height, the handlebar height, and the distance between the two. She helped me up and taught me how to clip in (on purpose).

"Comfortable?"

No. I don't think I belong here. I'm not a SoulCycle kind of girl. I've never been to a spin class. I'm sitting on a pole. And my clipped shoes make me feel like there's no escape.

"Mhmm."

The class filled up quickly and soon I was surrounded and being greeted by a voice that was trying to be soothing but was clearly meant to yell.

We began, guided by our leader, Catie, calmly saying "left, right, left." According to her, with everyone on the same foot, the energy becomes palpable. Soon, the class became one. Our feet moved in unison left, right, left faster and faster. Did I have no control over my own body? My legs spun of their own accord, matching, spin for spin, those to my right and left. Left, right, left. Before I knew it, I was tapping it back.

Picture totally downloaded from soulcycle.com

Twenty minutes into the class I felt death approach. My mouth was filled with cotton balls, my Dri-Fit tank drenched. I reached for my now half-empty water bottle, and watched it fall from my fingers to the ground in slow motion. Oh no. 

Disoriented, I went to grab my towel and it, too, slipped from my grasp. I tried to unclip my shoes to pick up my manna, and I couldn't figure it out. I was trapped on the bike from hell with no water and no towel. I'm going to die here.

With zero regard to my dire situation, Catie persisted. Left, right, left. So, I pressed on. Again, my body matched the tempo of those around me. We pumped together, up and down. Swayed together, left and right. Spun together, faster and faster.

"How's my back row feeling?" Catie demanded.

A voice sounding suspiciously like my own responded, "Woooo!" Was that? Noooo. Was that me? Did I just woo?

I did. I woo-ed. I was - dare I say it - having fun. Mind you, a torturous, killer-cardio-driven kind of fun, but fun nonetheless. My thighs no longer felt like they were on fire. (Truthfully, they didn't quite feel much like anything.) And I finally felt ... home.

That's it. I was home. There was peace here. Comfort. No judgement, no side-eyes. No one was looking at me differently for being big. I didn't even feel big here. I felt new, sure. Not as great at cardio, duh. But I didn't feel big.

In CrossFit, my size is both an asset and a hindrance. During the strength portions, I can lift on par with much more experienced women. But, during the intense workouts, I founder. My knees give, my form suffers and I steadily lose tempo with those around me. In both portions, though, I'm constantly aware of how big I am.

Not so at SoulCycle. At SoulCycle, I almost felt like I was one of them. Not a skinny white basic, but a person who enjoyed community and health. A person who wanted to better herself physically, mentally, emotionally, and, yes, spiritually, in one workout. A person who cares about her body but not its size.

Now that someone has helped me unclip my shoes (again), the endorphins have worn off, and I'm well-hydrated, do I feel like it was the soul-changing, spiritually awakening workout of legend? Not this time. But, I did just sign up for three more classes.




Saturday, September 24, 2016

gwynnie bee

I love fashion. I always have. Even when I was an overly opinionated co-ed and declared fashion merchandising a waste of a degree, I loved it.

I loved finding new ways to wear old pieces. I loved creating unexpected color combinations. I steered clear of the vapid wasteland of Vogue and InStyle, never realizing that the fun I had with my clothes meant I actually belonged with the lemmings.


But, let's be real. Plus-sized fashion isn't a thing. Obviously there are so many more options out there than there were even a few years ago, but you have to look for them. More than that, you have to know where to look. At the Houston Galleria, I can count on one hand (even if I were missing a few fingers) the options I have to shop plus size, let alone plus size I like.

Most of your plus size options are online. But, when you're plus sized, how can you be sure that anything will really fit? Though I'm big, I still have an hourglass figure, which is completely different than my apple-, pear- and banana-shaped sisters. (I am a bit grateful to not be qualified as a food item. But I suppose Oreo-shaped would work.) And their bust-to-waist-to-hip ratio is vastly different from my own.

But, for the sake of argument, let's say I adore everything at Torrid, Seven7 or Rue107 and they all fit me perfectly. My weight is still always in flux. I went from a size 12 to a size 22 in one year, and now I'm a size 18. (That's a whole blog post in itself.) I honestly don't want to buy new clothes every time I change sizes.




I mean, I do. Of course I do. I always want new clothes. But I don't want to out- or under-grow them in a matter of months.

Enter Gwynnie Bee.

I first heard about Gwynnie Bee through a Facebook Ad when I was a size 12. It wasn't for me then, but I logged it in my memory and have been making excellent use of it for about a year.

Gwynnie Bee is basically Netflix for plus-size fashion. You pay a monthly subscription fee, determined by how many outfits/articles of clothing you want at once, shop in their online store to fill your closet/queue, and let them do the rest.

They'll send you the first outfit you chose that they have available, along with a return envelope. Wear it as little or as much as you want and ship it back. Then wait for your next piece of clothing to come. They take care of everything — postage, item selection and even dry cleaning!

If you really love an item, you can keep it and let them know to charge your card. Bonus: because everything is pre-worn, you can buy everything at a significant discount.

I love Gwynnie Bee because I basically have a rotating closet with them. I'm always receiving new clothes that fit, and I don't have to commit to them unless I truly love them. When my body changes as it inevitably will, I simply change my size selection online.

Gwynnie Bee is the plus-sized fashionista's dream.

Do you have any favorite shopping spots and secrets?

Thursday, May 19, 2016

me before you



Last night I had the opportunity to screen "Me Before You," a new British rom-com based on the book of the same name. How excited was I? Let me count the ways.

First of all, how can any closet nerd not want to see a movie with Daenerys Targaryan, Finnick Odair, Neville Longbottom and Clara Oswald? Bonus: it also features Mr. Bates and Tywin Lannister. It's a glorious nerd-world amalgamation/love fest!


I first saw the trailer with Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin back in February, and instantly knew I needed to see the movie. But first, I needed to read the book.

From Amazon -
"Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has barely been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex–Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.

Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

A Love Story for this generation and perfect for fans of John Green’s The Fault in Our StarsMe Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?" 




Even though I read this book specifically to watch the movie, I always get a little nervous about a Hollywood adaptation of a beautiful piece of literature. As is the case with all books-turned-movies, except Tuck Everlasting, the book was better. But, the movie was a fair adaptation.

Sam Claflin captured Will Trainer's morbid humor, while Emilia Clarke perfectly embodied the incandescent joy and quirkiness of Lou.

The movie did fail to bring in a few plot points from the book that I thought were integral to both full character development and the comprehensive plot of the second book. So, now I ponder with a slightly pouty lower lip: are they even planning to cinema-fy the second book? They did well to end the movie with closure, but the sequel just provides so much growth for Lou and her journey to self-discovery and fulfillment.


The good news is that you don't need to read the book to understand the movie. You can see "Me Before You" starting June 3 (and don't forget your tissues).

Be sure to let me know your thoughts on the movie or book in the comments!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

mother's day gift guide


One of my absolute favorite things to do in life is get gifts for those I love. It's kind of like a game for me: finding the perfect gift for the perfect person, whether it be sentimental, useful, or something they  had completely forgotten they'd wanted.

I admit, though, that shopping for gifts can be hard for even me sometimes, so I love gift guides! Hopefully, these will help you find the perfect gift for your mom this Mother's Day.

Clothes + Jewelry

Bags + Purses

House + Home

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

a-force vol. 2


Last we saw the women of Arcadia, they were battling unknown beasts from unprecedented portals to  other lands. Under Victor Von Doom's rule, none of the worlds are supposed to interact, so this crossover is troubling indeed.

(I feel like I've got a bit of comic-book-narrative voice going on ... and I kinda like it. Someone call Stan Lee so we can talk.)

The A-Force's fearless leader, She-Hulk, took it upon herself to find out exactly what was going on and disappeared into an unbelievable world: an apocalyptic Manhattan.

"I am the Baroness of Arcadia, the most blessed island in the whole of Battleworld. In the past 24 hours, we have been attacked by giant sharks, overruled by our unknowable god-emperor and his wizard-staff-up-his-butt vizier—lost one of our finest lieutenants for doing her duty, discovered an incomprehensible portal in our ocean—and met a universe incarnate adopted by my youngest and least emotionally stable operative. And fought a giant robot.

"So, I would say someone is trying to destabilize Arcadia, and I'd say they're doing a pretty fine job."

Almost as soon as She-Hulk lands in this new world, she is detected by some crazy robots and has to kick some ass. In the middle of her ass-kicking, though, Doom's minions find her and threaten to banish her. Because comic book characters never overreact.


She-Hulk tries to reason with them and explain that she didn't create the portals, but is only trying to protect her land. (Sorry for the fuzziness. I was completely off my photography game [the little I had] when taking these.)


With the minions refusing to listen, She-Hulk flees the battle and travels back through the psychedelic portal to Arcadia, while the rest of her team awaits her return.


She-Hulk realizes the portal was made from Arcadian magic. Just as she is explaining to A-Force that there is traitor in Arcadia, and that the minions are trying to blame Singularity (the cute little starry-skinned being that fell from the sky), said minions appear in Arcadia. Another battle is about to ensue when the traitor reveals herself.


Thankfully, one of She-Hulk's closest friends is only giving them time to escape. Medusa isn't really the traitor (phew). But who is?

Crazy ensues, and I'm not a fan of spoilers, so I'll just tease you with these faces:


A-Force is ordered to  split up and search for the traitor. She-Hulk resigns from her post as baroness as she is now considered a traitor by Doom and must go into hiding, but not before giving one last order: "Alert Arcadia. We are no longer safe."

"We tried to build a paradise. We knew we were blessed, and we rejoiced in everything we had, everything we were. Our eyes and hearts so full of the world we loved that we were blind to the little things beneath. A summer's day, a flight, a fight, a sacrifice ... And now, we are here.


"By little things, we find meaning. By little things, we lose empires. 'Someone has come for Arcadia. Engineered hatred within the ranks of A-Force. Opened holes in our defenses. Taken those we love from us. Brought the rage of Doom and his Thors down upon us. We must bring them to justice.'"


And then guest appearance by Halle Berry, which I don't really understand. But, then again, I'm new to comics and the Secret Wars and really think I should have started further back to get some context ...

As the women are both looking for the traitor and trying to find safety, Singularity offers a gift to repay the kindness she was shown:



I'd say that's a pretty solid ending, but I am starting to get more confused as I read on. Why are there three female Thors who are somehow on the "evil" side (with Doom)? Is every female Marvel superhero living in Arcadia? Is that why Storm showed up: because she was already there?

If you have any answers (or questions or comments) let me know below!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

brunch and babies


Brunch, I think, is one of those small joys in life reserved for catching up with girlfriends and pretending that it makes you Upper-East-Side classy. It's a time for laughter, indulgence, and maybe a little drinking before noon without guilt.

And then, someone brings a baby into your sacred brunch restaurant. Yes, babies are adorable and pudgy and make your ovaries yearn for a life yet to come. But they also cry. And scream. And their adorable little noses run and get their cute pudgy faces crusty. And they throw hashbrowns on the floor. And, though they sit in a perfectly clean restaurant, under the gaze of a watchful mother, somehow their little fingers end up grimy and sticky, and dirt inevitably makes its way under their fingernails. And they look up at you, all big eyes, toothless smile, dirty fingers and snot-encrusted face.

Yeah, they're cute. But you're still silently judging their mother for desecrating brunch.


But, brunch is still brunch. It's a beautiful, magical time that, whether with girlfriends or by yourself, allows you to escape the pain, sadness and complexities that may wait for you in real life.

It's for healing and discovering and forgetting and indulging. And, if you believe hard enough, it's two hours a week when calories don't count.

My favorite food at my favorite brunch place (a classification that qualifies it to compete for the coveted title of my most favorite thing of all) is cinnamon roll french toast. Way too sticky and sweet for a meal when calories do count, it's how I hope Heaven tastes.


Said most favorite brunch place is in Baton Rouge, and I have yet to discover an adequate Houston replacement. So, take to the comments below and tell me your favorite brunch places and meals. (Maybe we can even wear some of these brunch-approved clothes when we go.)



Tuesday, April 5, 2016

patsy walker, aka hellcat! #2




When we left Patsy, she had just begun the process of starting her own business—a temp agency for out-of-work heroes and people with powers. In the meantime, she's having to work retail.

The story opens with Patsy in a frenzy during her first shift at "The One-Stop Crop Top Shop."

"I'm not big on talking about my old life, but I'll tell you this for free: I've been through a lot. I've fought demons, aliens, monsters, robots, and more than a handful of regular joes with too much money and a superiority complex. The type that always called me 'lady' when we fought. I'd like to say most of them were worse than Gwenna, my new, 17-year-old boss, 'cause I know she's just trying her best, but still ... as of right now, she's on my list."



Patsy's day gets worse when she reads a feature story of her nemesis, Hedy Wolfe. (Hedy took the right's to Patsy's mother's books about Patsy's life and has republished them ... and is reaping all the benefits.) Hedy plays the victim in her interview about her and Patsy's relationship when, in reality, she isn't taking calls from Patsy or Patsy's lawyer, Jennifer Walters (A.K.A. She-Hulk).

While she's working, Patsy has to turn into Hellcat to chase a shoplifter with magic powers. Sadly, just as Patsy's about to catch her, the thief disappears into her magical Mary Poppins-esque bag. But, not before indicating, rather cryptically, that she works with someone who would love to have Hellcat as a captive.

Poor Patsy can't catch a break. Once the chase is over, Hedy shows up at the store, looking for Patsy. Patsy won't talk without Jennifer present, so Hedy disappears, leaving a path of insults in her wake.



Patsy refuses to end her day on a bad note, and so calls an emergency meeting for burgers with all her best girlfriends/superheroines. During the meal, Thor lets Patsy know exactly who was behind her attack at the mall: Casiolena. (But we don't yet know who exactly that is.)


Thursday, March 31, 2016

a-force vol. 2



After reading the first issue of A-Force, I realized, "Ok. This is going to get real intense. Real fast." And, the second installment only reaffirms that. We begin:

"After failing to save America Chavez from Doom's justice, She-Hulk rallied A-Force, Protectors of Arcadia, to investigate the strange monster attack that led to America's exile. Meanwhile, Nico Minoru, reeling from the loss of her foster sister, discovered a strange being who fell from the sky..."

The comic opens with members of A-Force waiting on a report from The Mariners, a group of people/heroes that seem to be a bit amphibious. We see them in the ocean, discovering a portal to another realm. The portal quickly begins to collapse, and they rush to the surface to join the rest of A-Force.


We go back to Loki's house, where Nico and America live. Nico is getting to know Singularity, who fell to the earth like a meteor last issue, and forming the beginning of what will become an inseparable bond.

"We are rarely given to know when our lives will change forever. In the years that follow, as we count the ripples, we can trace them to the single tiny stonethe brush of a hand, the sudden look, the conversation that took such a strange turnthe call in the dead of night.


"Who we arethe kindness and cruelty that shape usmay not come with a blush or a scar. We don't hinge on universes. We hinge on little things."

Nico brings Singularity to meet the rest of the team when Arcadia is attacked by a giant-ass Iron Man wannabe. The heroines snap into action to fight the new villain, but he's proving to be a bit too much. Not-Tony Stark is about to demolish the non-super citizens of Arcadia, but he isn't fast enough for Singularity, who saves the people in a flash.



The battle concludes with A-Force completely kicking ass (duh). But, once the battle is over, duty calls, and She-Hulk leaves to uncover the truth behind the portals.

And you won't believe where she ends up.



Wednesday, March 30, 2016

top 10 dives in upper kirby

I've been living in the Upper Kirby neighborhood of Houston for just about 8 months and, I have to admit, it falls quite short of my old neighborhood near LSU in terms of affordable, casual restaurants. (Honestly, though. What could I expect? The offshoot of Houston's most affluent neighborhood is just not going to have the same kind of restaurants as a college area.)

But, being the kind of person who neither cares for nor can afford fancy afford, I've scoured the neighborhood for suitable replacements to my Baton Rouge stomping grounds. These 10 restaurants, in no particular order (except for No. 1, obvs), are the only places I frequent now.

*Side note: for the sake of this post, a "dive" is a place cheap, good food, lackluster decor, probably not a lot of parking, and maybe shares a building with several other businesses.


10. Mainely Sandwiches
Location: South Shepherd, between West Alabama and Richmond
This is a yummy North Atlantic Coast-themed soup and sandwich shop, with a special focus (obviously) on Maine lobster. Their sandwich rolls are delicious, but the bread is probably the best part. It's like butter, melting in your mouth.
Try: Lobster Roll, Crab Roll, and definitely the Lobster Bisque

9. McElroy's Pub
Location: S. Sandman St (off of Richmond, right around S. Shepherd)
Go for the drinks, stay for the fun. McElroy's boasts friendly staff, a fun jukebox, and your standard go-to bar games of pool and darts. It's super chill with a comfy, rich and warm atmosphere. Be careful not to lose track of time in your relaxation!
Try: The Best Pint of Guinness in Houston

8. Blue Fish House
Location: Richmond, just east of the Kirby intersection
Blue Fish is a great place for Stephen and me to hop over to when we just don't feel like cooking. It's right across the street from our apartment, has a large menu, and is super affordable. It's not going to be the best sushi you've ever had, but it is really good, especially considering the price you pay. (Not a lot.)
Try: Volcano Roll and Vegetable Croquette



7. Hunan Village
Location: S. Shepherd, between West Alabama and Richmond
A relatively small Chinese restaurant with fast and friendly service, Hunan is one of our favorite places to order in when we're feeling a carby feast. Great egg rolls and crab wontons (my favorites at any restaurant), and excellent hot and sour soup.
Try: General Tsao's Chicken, Hot and Sour Soup, Crab Wontons

6. Luna Pizzeria
Location: Richmond and Kirby
A relatively small pizzeria with an even smaller menu, Luna has perfected their specialties: good food and a fun atmosphere. The restaurant is littered with throwback table games to keep you entertained while you're waiting on your food.
Try: Spicy Andouille Pizza (Super yum!)

5. Avalon Diner
Location: Westheimer, just East of the Kirby intersection
Though they now have multiple locations throughout the Houston area, the OG, 80-year-old diner on Wertheimer is always packed with people and personality. Have a burger and an old-fashioned milkshake, sit back, and enjoy the charm with a big side helping of people-watching.
Try: Milkshake (any flavor; they're all good), Breakfast Sandwich and Waffle

4. Dino's Den
Location: Richmond, between Kirby and Greenbriar
An ideal spot for Happy Hour, Dino's has stiff drinks, loads of friendly faces, and even a charging station. You may miss it at first, because there's no sign at the moment, but just look for the painted dinosaurs next to Blue Fish House.
Try: Honeydew Mimosas and the yummy Sunday Feature Food (though that changes week to week)



3. Star Pizza
Location: Norfolk, just West of S. Shepherd (near Richmond)
Star Pizza is basically a Houston institution. All of their pizzas are made to order (which may make the service slow from time to time) and completely delicious. Their marinara and dough are made from scratch daily, and the toppings are fresh and delicious. Eat there or take it home, either way it's completely delicious.
Try: Anything, really. But, especially the Deep Dish Starburst (pictured above), and the Hand Tossed Chicken Alfredo (pictured below).


2. Hobbit Cafe
Location: Richmond, between Kirby and S. Shepherd, nestled behind Blue Fish
This adorable little restaurant is a converted house with dining throughout the rooms of the house and, as you can imagine, decorated with all kinds of Lord of the Rings memorabilia. We expected more of a British pub when we went, but the menu has a great assortment of (mostly American) food.
Try: Boudin Burger, Quesadilla and Chicken Salad


1. BB's Cafe
Location: Richmond, between Buffalo Speedway and Levy Park
This is my favorite. My absolute favorite. BB's is the first place in Houston where I had "Oh. My. Goodness." good food. It's an exquisite blend of Tex-Mex and Cajun, and is, honestly, the best food I've had in a while. Go. Now.
Try: Crawfish Quesadillas (these are eyes-rolling-in-the-back-of-your-head good) and the South Texas Fire poboy


Thursday, March 24, 2016

patsy walker, aka hellcat! #1


Hellcat is my new favorite comic book. I know I've only read, like, two comic book series, but still. She's kick-ass, someone you want to be best friends with, and the series itself fun, funny and totally cute. But first, a little backstory.

Hellcat began in 1976 when she appeared in The Avengers Vol. 1, #144. Her alias, Patricia Walker Baxter Hellstrom grew up as the subject of her own comic book series. (I know. Comic-ception.) Patricia's mother, Dorothy Walker, found success creating the comic book detailing romance and adventures of her teenage daughter and her friends.

Patricia, being fascinated with superheroes, convinced the mutant Beast to make her into a superheroine. She tagged alongside The Avengers (where she picked up the forgotten costume of former superhero The Cat), but was never invited to join. (Here's her full origin story.)

The character's resurgence came in December (2015) with "Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat!" Though this series is a self-contained telling, there are plenty of nods to Patsy's past. (And, yes, she's totally the same Patsy Walker/Trish Walker that's in Jessica Jones on Netflix. I completely geeked out when I realized it.)

"So let's backtrack just a touch. Get to know our hero with these Patsy Facts! Her mom wrote romance comics about her teen years! Pretty weird, Mom! She has not had the greatest love life. I mean, yikes. Powers include butt-kicking and butt-punching, which she learned on the moon, and more! These days she works as an investigator for Jennifer Walters. [She-Hulk. Who is a lawyer.] Oh, and she can sense mystical energy. It's pretty neat."

It opens with Hellcat defeating a petty thief with superpowers, Telekinian. He confesses that it was his first crime, and he only did it because he's recently unemployed. The newly-fired Patsy befriends Telekinian (Ian Soo) and becomes his roommate.

Patsy and Ian drop into a bookstore to pick up something he'd ordered, when Patsy discovers her "best frenemy from her youth," Hedy Wolfe, was benefitting from Patsy's mom's death by republishing all of the old "Patsy Walker" comics.

Later, the bookstore owner, a childhood friend of Patsy's, hires Ian. He sees his telekinesis as a helpful, rather than threatening, trait; this is apparently a rarity. Off-duty superheroes, mutants and people with power tend to have difficulties finding an employer willing to hire a freak.

Thus, the plot of the series begins: Patsy decides to create an employment agency for heroes "and other cool friends" that need work.

It's seriously a super cute comic. It very much has a millennial vibe and would be great for teenagers, college students, and adults who appreciate a bit of silliness.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

greatness


I’ve always felt pressure to be something great. When I was a little girl, I thought that greatness would come on Broadway, where I could share my angelic average singing voice and mesmerizing laughable dancing skills with awe-inspired crowds.

That one year of high school when I thought I was a poet, I was convinced my simple ballads would make me this generation’s Emily Dickinson.

My grandest, longest dream of greatness was imagining myself creating a girls’ magazine. Seriously, this was a 10-year dream of mine (which, when you’re 26, is a long damn time). This is what I told every friend, mentor, colleague or passersby who asked my career plans. I was going to achieve my own greatness by helping young girls understand how wonderful they are. (I am just SO giving.)

I started by creating blogs, because I knew the best way to reach my dream was to start as soon as possible. I created at least four blogs in as many years because ADD. I never wrote frequently enough to gain the necessary traction for success. And, by the time I’d realized I hadn’t blogged in four months, I had a new awesome idea for a new awesome blog. My final blog attempt was a concerted effort to create the early stages of my magazine. Then I realized I had no idea what I was doing.

And then, I’d feel bad about my failures. I’d read too many articles by 23-year-old assistant editors at Vogue, and too many fashion blogs from women my age wearing Valentino on the daily.

Why hadn’t I achieved my greatness? There are women younger than me all over the Internet who are experiencing the kind of monumental success I’ve always envisioned for myself. If I haven’t made my first million and/or become a household name by 27, I’m obviously a failure.

Wait, Lauren. Take a step back.

It’s not about you.

Why did you ever feel pressure to be famous and wealthy?

It’s not about you.

Who ever said that notoriety was the only way to achieve greatness?

It’s not about you.

I live my life by a faith that prioritizes loving others, so why did I feel that everything needs to be about me?

The more negativity I see in headlines, the more narcism and bullying I see on social media, the more I realize that achieving my narrow view of greatness should never be a goal for me. I’m starting to think it’s not really worth it.

I’m starting to realize that true greatness already exists all around me, and I become an active participant every time I love my neighbor. I become part of the greatness of humanity every time I hold the door for a stranger, keep my middle finger down when someone cuts me off, or even take a moment to people-watch with love instead of derision and judgement. (If you’re overly hipster or trying to rock normcore, the judgement is just gonna happen, dude.)

It’s not about me.

Greatness is about loving others and finding ways to love through my talents. I write, so I enjoy crafting meaningful notes to those I love. I’m a gift whisperer, so I be sure to get people small presents randomly, just so they know someone is thinking of them. And I’m a fabulous hugger, so I try to make people’s gloomy days just a little bit brighter through a warm embrace.

I’ve given up on my silly, self-centered goal of fame, and am choosing to be the best, most kick-ass embodiment of love that I can be each and every day.


And that, dear friends, is greatness.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

a-force vol. 1



Ok. I admit it. I'm a geek.

(And I'm totally ok with that.) I've recently gotten into reading comic books, but, as Stephen isn't that kind of geek, I'm having to find my own way into the things I like.

I loved the Marvel movies, and especially Black Widow's integral role throughout the Avengers (and spinoff) movies. And, I currently hate DC because they have yet to prove to me that they're not sexist, whereas Marvel just came out with A-Force (July 2015). And thus began my descent into the comic book world.

I started off with subscriptions to A-Force and Black Widow. Sadly, Black Widow was cancelled about three issues into my subscription. Bastards. (Though, Marvel did send me Hellcat instead, which I now love.)

A-Force details the saga of group of kickass super-heroines that have replaced The Avengers in the Secret Wars.

Concept Art from Marvel.com

The comic's backstory begins ...
"The multiverse was destroyed! The heroes of Earth-616 and Earth-1610 were powerless to save it! Now, all that remains ... is Battleworld! A massive, patchwork planet composed of the fragments of worlds that no longer exist, maintained by the iron will of its God and Master, Victor Von Doom! Each region is a domain unto itself! This is the story of A-Force."

(Side note: Thank Stan Lee for back stories. I would have no idea what's going on without them ... I still kind of don't.)

The women of A-Force live on an island called Arcadia on Battleworld. The comic opens with the women doing their own thing—Dazzler is grocery shopping, Sister Grimm is closing on cereal, Captain Marvel reads and Medusa wakes up next to her man. And the story begins.



"In the vast oceans of our planet, isolated from the forbidden domains of Battleworld, there is an island. Our island is red roofs and friendly dogs, green hills and water blue as heartache. It is bells at dawn and bells at dusk, rising towers of stone and silver, clay and chrome. It is its people, the good, the bad, and all the rest of us—doctors and lawyers, teachers and thieves, scientists, artists, musicians and mystics, brothers- and sisters-in-arms—heroes, and villains. Family and friends. In the shadow of the shield, with the sun on the sea, there is an island. Welcome to Arcadia. It's pretty tight."

Team members are out on "patrol," (assumably operating as a police force) each reporting a quiet night when a giant (seriously, giant ... I mean, it's a friggin Megalodon) shark tears through the ocean's surface (via a dimensional rip? Maybe?). Without giving too much away, they take care of the shark by breaking the "rules" Victor Von Doom had set and someone gets in trouble.



She-Hulk, leader of the A-Force, pleads with the sheriff on troublemaker's behalf, but to no avail. Doom's law is absolute. Troublemaker is gone, and her bestie is pissed with She-Hulk because projection.

The issue closes with a pretty epic assembly of the (a) forces.

"Something has trespassed on our borders, something that is a danger to all Arcadia. What it has set in motion, I cannot say. I do not know where or why that monster appeared—but it cost us one of our own. And more may be coming. Tonight, we are going to learn the truth. We are going to learn the source of the apparition that cost us our sister. We will find this threat. We will root it out. We will know, at last—for good or for evil—what serpents have come into our garden."

And, the cliffhanger rests with a sparkly new friend falling to Arcadia like a meteor. Her name is Singularity.



A-Force is killer gateway comic for me. It's nothing but women being awesome in beautiful illustrations and song-like prose. If you haven't read it yet, I highly recommend.

If you don't feel like actually reading them, though, I'll be posting summaries for more A-Force and other comic books.


A-Force Key Characters:
She-Hulk (Jennifer Walters) - A-Force Team Leader and Baroness of Arcadia
Captain Marvel (Col. Carol Danvers) - Super strong; takes no prisoners
Sister Grimm (Nico Minoru) - Magic runs through her veins
Dazzler (Alison Blaire) - Mutant queen of disco; walking laser light show
Ms. America (America Chavez) - She's beauty. She's grace. She'll punch you in the face.
Loki - Norse goddess; Mistress of Secrets
Medusa - Queen of the Inhumans

What are your favorite comic books? Or, better yet, what geek tendencies do you have?

Sunday, March 13, 2016

besty brandy's bachelorette

Since moving to Houston last summer, I have, without a doubt, missed my besties terribly. Buuuut, this weekend, Bestie Brandy is flying in to visit! Though our agenda isn't set yet, the weekend will definitely entail lots of shopping and margaritas.

In honor of her visit, I'm sharing a bit about her bachelorette weekend we celebrated last year. (This post is so long overdue.)

We started the weekend on a Friday night in April (see? Way overdue.) with a little pre-gaming at her bridesmaid Lauren's house.


(Ain't she classy, folks?) Before moving on to dinner and dessert at The Melting Pot.


(Lauren is on the left, Brandy is on the right.) Fondue is such a fun experience. Sure, you can argue that you're paying out the wazoo for a meal you have to cook yourself, but it's a fun way to treat yo'self. And if you can't get past the idea of paying to cook your own food, at least go for dessert. My favorite is The Melting Pot's turtle chocolate combination. It's ahhhhmazing. (I mean, dipping fruit and marshmallows and rice crispy treats into a heavenly fusion of chocolate, caramel and candied pecans?! Yes, please!)


(On the left is my friend, Meagan, from Crossfit. She's super country and loves to wear her NASCAR shirts--yes, plural--because I pick on her, but she's also cute and sweet as hell. She and Brandy clicked as soon as I introduced them.)


Please excuse the photo quality. Romantic lighting and an iPhone camera don't make for the best images.




The staff (very sweetly) sent a special dessert to congratulate Brandy on her nuptials ... but we enjoyed the typo way more.


After dinner, we headed downtown for the more typical bachelorette fun: heavy drinking and bad dancing at a bar. We opted for the low-key Huey's, as none of us were the dancing-in-stilettos variety that frequented the clubs. Thing to note: if you're celebrating something special, definitely go to a smaller bar; it was crowded, but they treated Brandy like the queen she is.


The celebration continued Saturday morning with brunch and ... wait for it ... horseback riding. No, it's not your standard bachelorette activity, but it is so perfectly Brandy and was so perfectly fun. After the previous late night (I think I got home after midnight! Y'all. I'm such a grandma; I was dead.), it was a welcome peaceful, calming respite. 



Seriously. How cute is she?



And the weather was PERFECT!












This cat was having none of our silliness.



I am so excited to be reunited with Brandy this weekend! What are some of your favorite things to do with your besties?