Questions

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Oh hey, WordPress. I broke my “post once a month” rule. Crap.

And here to make up for it is a list of asinine questions, none of which I really need an answer to, but they’re funny so whatever.

  1. Now that my ex-boyfriend is engaged to my ex-roommate, will he change his HBOGo password? Because my life will be ruined without full Jon Snow access.
  2. Is there any real possibility of convincing my parents to NOT vote for Trump? I’ve tried almost everything. Welcome to new ideas.
  3. Why are crime podcasts the best thing on the planet and am I a psychopath for loving listening to murder stories so much? My Favorite Murder and In the Dark are my latest obsessions–check them out if you’re a weirdo like me. Also, (not to answer my own question) I think I like them partly because they play into my extreme anxiety and constant paranoia. Now I can quote 1980s court cases if someone makes fun of me for locking my doors meticulously (and checking to make sure they’re locked).
  4. Why do rapists often times serve little to NO jail time? Everyone should watch Audrie & Daisy on Netflix…it’s sickening but important, for teenagers especially. I wish it were appropriate to show in my classroom–I’d love for my students to watch and learn about a) the true meaning of consent b) the horror social media can cause and c) the repercussions of your actions and how some mistakes can haunt you (and others) forever.

On that bright and shiny note, I leave you. Off to try a “salt cave session”…I don’t even know. The Groupon obsession continues.

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Grandma’s Hairspray

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I don’t really use hairspray anymore, and it’s not because I don’t like it or need it. I choose to curl my hair and have it fall flat, frizzing pitifully in the Texas humidity.

The reason? I don’t want to throw away my hairspray–my grandma’s hairspray.

After her funeral two years ago, my family was handing out random items from cabinets–“Which teapot do you want? Which porcelain figurine?” I know they had good intentions–they wanted us all to have a memory or two to take home. But I just felt so weird about it all. I wanted to go home, away from my family and away from all the teapots. My mom gently said something like, “Alysha, there must be something you want to remember Grandma. C’mon, just pick something.”

I asked if I could have her hairspray. We were standing by the restroom, I looked and saw it, remembered mine had run out recently. It seemed like a great idea at the time. Mom laughed and handed it to me.

That was two years ago…and the silver bottle is still sitting next to my sink. I use it sometimes, but never too much, and I always get anxiety afterwards that I used too much, that I’m going to run out soon.

Because I mean…what will I do? Throw it out?! I’ll feel like I’m throwing out my grandma! A freakin’ hairspray bottle has become a weird version of an urn.

The truth is, every time I see it, smell it, feel it in my hair–I remember her wispy white curls and salmon dress pants and funny little British laugh. I miss her cooking and I miss her calling me “my dear” and I miss sitting in her kitchen on those awful wooden chairs telling her about my day.

I can’t throw away the hairspray, because it’ll be like Uncle Chuck’s salsa all over again. I kept the most giant jar of Uncle Chuck’s homemade salsa in my fridge for SO long after he passed away. I couldn’t even open it–the seal seemed to be intensely fused on. I finally made myself throw it away and have regretted it ever since. I miss seeing it every time I open my fridge.

It makes you wonder what weird items people would take from your place if they had the chance–to remember you by. Does anyone care at all about my favorite yellow cup? My wacky paintings, dusty books, giant seashell? Will anyone want my grandma’s teapot that’s on my stove or her porcelain figurine that’s on my writing desk?

El Talisman Coffee

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Originally written for and published by Texas Lifestyle Magazine 🙂

 

The Alvarados are a lot like any other typical Texas family—they work hard, they play hard, but the most important thing in their lives is each other. Yuri and Johanna Alvarado are political refugees from Nicaragua—they moved to the U.S. as teenagers, escaping the Sandinista revolution and Contra war that followed. They beat all odds and created a happy and successful life, plus, they’ve raised two children, Johanna and Fernando.

The next step of their dream involves one of my favorite things in the world—coffee. El Talisman Coffee, straight from the Alvarado’s farm in the mountains of Matagalpa, Nicaragua is absolutely incredible. Johanna and Yuri are fifth and sixth generation coffee farmers—who still plant, prune, clean, harvest, and process by hand—which used to, of course, be the only way.

When I spoke to Yuri Alvarado, he said, “My favorite part of the job is growing the coffee in Nicaragua. I love the level of involvement required to produce good quality coffee. We tend to each of our 50,000 coffee trees individually. We still do all the work by hand, like our ancestors did over a century ago. Growing good quality coffee is truly a labor of love and I love doing it.”

You can truly taste that “labor of love” in every cup. And it’s not just me that thinks so highly of the smooth taste—El Talisman Coffee has been selling out all over Central Texas! They’ve recently been a hit at the Kyle Market Days, Barton Creek Famers Market (find them here every Saturday, rain or shine!), the Downtown Buda Farmers Market, Plum Creek Front Porch Days, Ten Thousand Villages of Austin World Fair Trade Day, and the Kyle Public Library.

“Working with my family has been by far the most exciting part of this experience,” Yuri explained. “It has been amazing for me to see Johanna and Fernando connect at a very deep level, with something our family has been doing for five generations. It’s been wonderful to see the amount of passion and energy each has brought to this endeavor.”

If you’re not sold yet, I urge you to go meet one of the Alvarados at one of the aforementioned markets—they are the friendliest humans on the planet, I promise you. A smile from them and a sip of their delicious coffee will make your day. While they work on getting their online store up and running, they will continue with farmers markets every weekend. As Yuri said, “We absolutely love having the opportunity to meet every customer personally!” Next time you need your morning caffeine, support local Texan families and check out El Talisman!

 

 

Dear Future Husband

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Dear Future Husband,

I’m sorry that you missed me in my prime, man. Damn I was FIT. I now value the happiness that bread and booze bring me over the happiness that my jean size used to bring me. I care a whole hell of lot more about making a friend’s happy hour celebration or checking out a new restaurant than I do about how many minutes of cardio I got in. I’ve accepted butt cellulite and you should too, sir. I still get carded sometimes, I’ll have you know.

I know what I want. This has been a little off-putting for some men–they want me to only want…what they want. To accept everything they say and everything they do, without question. I’m not that girl. I’m not easily suppressed. I have strong opinions, I stand up for myself, I tell you when you hurt my feelings and I tell you WHY. Thank you for loving that about me without being intimidated. I love the same things about you.

I’m no longer in a rush. I’m not going to settle for that dude who called teaching “such an easy job,” that dude who smoked way too much weed, that dude who spoke in teenager-slang, or that dude who wouldn’t stop talking about his huge bank account–I’m waiting for YOU, obviously.

Thanks for supporting my writing. Thanks for wanting to get to know my friends and family. Thanks for wanting more than just sex, but…ya’ know, thanks for also wanting sex. Thanks for being a foodie (thank you for not letting me settle for that dude with the ginger allergy) and thanks for wanting to travel with me (thanks for not letting me settle for that dude who didn’t even want to buy a passport). Thank you for reading books and not just Facebook posts.

Just thanks, for being you, whoever you are 🙂

 

Love,

Alysha

Pink Gloves

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Originally written for and published by TLM 🙂

I absolutely love the idea of a) a female-only boxing class and b) supporting an amazing cause while I work out.Pink Gloves Boxing (PGB) on Burnet in Austin combines those two awesome things (and yes, the gloves are really pink). Pink Gloves offers a tier program, drop-in classes, personal training, and private classes — with a percentage of all proceeds going to breast cancer research. Their website boasts about the 3 F’s: fitness, fun, and female empowerment!

Brenda Hull, owner of PGB Austin, got her start in boxing by branching off from her normal fitness routines to try something new.

It can be intense on the first visit, but by the end you will want your own gear. Courtesy photo
It can be intense on the first visit, but by the end you will want your own gear. Courtesy photo.

“I have always been into fitness and working out. after working with a personal trainer for many years I needed something different,” Hull explained. “I found PGB and  took some classes and fell in love with boxing, then the gym closed and didn’t find any other boxing classes i enjoyed. A few years after that I was searching for fitness jobs and certifications and found an AD for Pink Gloves and how they would be in Austin for a training camp. I signed up and after a few meetings with PGB central I bought the license and opened Pink gloves Boxing Austin in 2013.”

Since its doors opened in 2013, PGB Austin has been met with eager Austinites wanting to give it a try, but sorry fellas — this one’s for the women.

“Women have mostly had positive experiences at PGB,” Hull said. “One member recently stated, ‘I was so very pleased with PGB class tonight! I am hooked! Can’t wait to go back! It’s such an inviting group.’ Many women have met their best friends, who later became their bridesmaids, at Pink Gloves Austin. That is our goal — to create a positive, comfortable environment that you spend with family! I have gotten several request from men, especially the PGB husbands and kids. We are working on something for men and the kids of our Austin community.”

Don’t be afraid to give this gym a try. You’re walking into a welcoming environment, not the gladiator area. There won’t be any fists flying at your face, but you will get a workout.

They really seem to be building a positive bond in the gym. Courtesy photo
They really seem to be building a positive bond in the gym. Courtesy photo.

“We like to make everyone feel welcome so the trainers and members will introduce themselves and help you check in and get your hands wrapped,” Hull explained. “What has naturally happened is that a member will take the first-timer and go over what the class looks like and gives them a tour of our small space. Once class begins, a group warm-up begins where I tell my trainers to take this time to let your members know who you are. After warm-up, trainers go over each station and the punches and combinations are taught. Class begins and goes by WAY too fast! Class ends with abs circle. There is a question of the day that members answer and give the group an ab workout or stretch. This is the time where we hear from the members and gives them the opportunity to get to know each other a little bit more.

They also host an annual “Punch-a-Thon” benefiting Seton Breast Cancer Center. The Punch-a-Thon is not an actual fight (they say their real fight is against breast cancer), but rather, each team has to punch heavy bags for a certain amount of time. For every five dollars donated to your team, you have to punch for one minute.

If you’re looking for a new workout routine—something to spice things up a bit, get you in shape, and meet friends—Pink Gloves is for you! Give it a try—all levels are welcome (you do NOT need to know a single thing about boxing, I promise). Plus, there’s a killer Groupon deal right now—five classes for only $39! Get to punchin’ Austin ladies.

Brass Ovaries

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Originally written for and published by Texas Lifestyle Magazine 🙂

 

Does your exercise regime need some spice? Treadmills can get really boring, elliptical machines can only do so much, and the same old same old gym scene can become monotonous. Brass Ovaries off East Manor in Austin is definitely NOT your run-of-the-mill workout. From “Twerk Fit” to “Pole Dancing 101,” your body won’t know what to think. You’ll reach muscles you didn’t even know you had. Plus, you’ll step out of your comfort zone, which is always a fun challenge!

The staff at Brass Ovaries really know their stuff. Courtesy photo
The staff at Brass Ovaries really know their stuff. Courtesy photo

“Brass Ovaries is a multi-functional aerial arts studio. We have been established for 9 years and have paved the way for every studio throughout Texas,” Bras Ovaries owner Haley proclaimed. “We are open to women, men, and trans-identified persons, no matter your age, shape, size, or fitness levels.”

I bought a Groupon to Brass Ovaries recently, mainly to defy my lame gym routine. Burlesque class was my favorite—kind of like a dance class (with a little more ooh-la-la). It was a blast—awesome instructor, fun music, and I left feeling sexy and empowered (I entered the room feeling nervous and embarrassed).

Pole class may have been difficult, but the results of persistence cant be argued. Courtesy photo
Pole class may have been difficult, but the results of persistence cant be argued. Courtesy photo

I hated Pole…but honestly, it was just because I have zero upper body strength. Seriously. I don’t think I could’ve lifted my body gracefully onto that pole if my life had depended on it. I was sore from trying though—don’t knock it ‘til you try it! It was an intense workout—I think it’d be fun to do with a group of girlfriends.

“We offer a wide range of services that include a world class training facility and staff, party planning, dance instruction, educational center, and a talented aerial performance group,” Haley explained. “We have an abundance of male students here at the studio. None of our classes are gender specific.”

All of the classes at Brass Ovaries are relatively small, which is great if you’re like me and need to watch or mimic the instructor 24/7. They offer such a wide variety of classes—there’s even aerial, yoga, belly dancing, and hoop!

It was a blast to get to workout with some of these fierce ladies. Courtesy photo
It was a blast to get to workout with some of these fierce ladies. Courtesy photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“To describe Brass Ovaries in 4 words….’Stop signs fear me,’” Haley touted. “Something like pole can be very scary to beginners. Sometimes people talk themselves out of it. They tend to say things like ‘I am not fit or sensual or skinny enough.’ These are just stop signs that people put up for themselves. Brass Ovaries helps by destroying those stop signs. Pole is an equal opportunity butt kicker. ‘Stop signs fear me,’ of course, does not pertain to the pole. Stop signs get in the way of individual goals, dreams, and desires. But with a set of ‘brass ovaries’, one should blast those stop signs right out of their way and proceed with extreme confidence.”

Give it a shot—especially if you’re feeling apprehensive at the very thought (that was me too). I promise you’ll love the change in pace. If, for no other reason, sign up for a class just because of their name…Brass Ovaries. Love it. Don’t we all have a pair of those, ladies?

Egypt: Plan Your Trip!

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Originally written for and published by: Texas Lifestyle Magazine 🙂

 

When I decided to go to Egypt over spring break, most people thought I was crazy. “But it’s not safe!” was still ringing in my ears as I landed in Cairo. Well, I promise you, fellow Texans, it IS safe (enough) and it is amazing. If this African country isn’t on your bucket list already, add it! There’s so much more than just pyramids to see.

Granted, I was part of a tour group—escorted by Sherif, our genius and congenial guide. Egypt CAN be a dangerous place, but so can every major city here in the U.S. You just have to be smart—don’t go off alone. Pretty normal, straight-forward travel advice for any third world country. Unfortunately, the impoverished state of the country is hard to miss—but there’s so much beauty to see as well.

We started off in the capital, which meant that the tour of the Great Pyramids (which you can see peaking between buildings as you drive through the city) was up first. I thought this was strange—to do the most exciting thing on Day 1, but I was very mistaken. The sphinx and pyramids where fantastic, don’t get me wrong (we even rode camels around them!), but I enjoyed the rest of the trip much more than expected.

After Cairo, our group set sail on the Nile—in a small cruise ship! The dollar goes far in Egypt—one of ours equaling to about eight of their Egyptian pounds. We wined and dined, lounged on the upper pool deck, and each time we docked, we were met with some of the most gorgeous sights we’d ever seen. Luxor, Edfu, and Aswan each presented their own treasures—temples upon temples upon temples, delicious food, insane markets, hookah lounges, vast museums, belly dancing, and of course, more temples.

Valley of the Kings was a highlight—we even went on a sunrise hot air balloon ride over it before walking through the tombs themselves. We also decided to take a quick flight to Abu Simbel, a massive rock temple that was my personal favorite stop of the trip—it was just simply majestic.

Hurghada was our last stop—we charted a yacht and snorkeled in the Red Sea! The water was brilliantly blue and we saw bright, beautiful fish and even got to hold a pufferfish. We also swam through so many purple Moon Jellyfish—they don’t sting! It was a great way to end the trip, especially since almost every other day had required quite a bit of walking! On that note—be prepared to sweat (it’s respectful to cover up as much as possible in Muslim countries—no short dresses or low-cut tops).

Egypt is such a historical place, but it’s more than just the mummies, gold, and hieroglyphics. It’s such a unique experience—you just have to go!