So I’m home after a solid seven days away. It’s the first full week I’ve gotten off since our honeymoon five years ago. Back then I was shadowed with phone calls from doctors with test results and recommendations for treatment. This, in contrast, was a worry free and relaxing time, and for that I am incredibly grateful. But I have to admit feeling slightly jealous of the kissing couple at the Houston airport on Sunday. Someday, Ben and I are going to get to fly somewhere, just the two of us, with no worries. I’m willing it to happen.
Although I missed Ben and the dogez terribly I had a pretty fantastic time. So here are some of the highlights:
I read approximately 1,500 pages of Anita Blake goodness. Sure, the plots are getting more and more lost as Blake’s burgeoning sexuality comes to the forefront. And yeah, she’s a bit of a Mary Sue. But damn if Laurell K Hamilton doesn’t know how to write a page-turner. I try not to be a book snob. I like what I like, and I’m not ashamed to say I’m loving Anita Blake right now. Maybe I’ll get bored with it eventually, but who knows. I’m still hooked on the Sookie Stackhouse novels, and they’ve moved from parody to something that should be parodied.
I got to eat at Toby Keith’s restaurant.
It was everything that I had anticipated. The waitress was super friendly, country music blared from the overhead speakers, and there were freedom fries on the menu. Being the subversive soul that I am, I ordered street tacos. They were delicious, but when I told Nathaniel (my musically-inclined brother) about it later, and he was horrified. “You got Tacos??!!” Of course I did…
Ken and I shopped at Whole Foods, which was pretty fantastic. It may be a national chain, but there’s not one within 100 miles of where I live, so it was a special treat. The boys behind the deli counter sang silly songs and yelled back and forth to each other, much to my amusement. The hipster at checkout commented on my purchases with enthusiastic aplomb. And the steak and roasted vegetables we had for dinner that night (recipe compliments of Kristin Sauers) were amazeballs.
On Friday I got a little stir-crazy and was going through Starbucks withdrawal. I got up and the sun was shining through the bedroom window. So I decided that if there was a Starbucks within reasonable walking distance, I was going. What is reasonable walking distance for Starbucks? Depends on how many days I’ve gone without. I’ve been told that I have a problem.
I opened my trusty GPS mapping application and found one only 3.1 miles away from my friend’s house. So I set out with the intention of getting a mocha, reading a couple chapters, and heading home. But then something wonderful happened. It turns out that the Starbucks I had mapped was actually on the University of Oklahoma’s campus. And so I spent the day wandering around the streets of Norman, going from boutique to cafe. The university is surrounded by blocks of smalls businesses and restaurants.
I talked to the girls at the Starbucks counter and they recommended Cafe Plaid for lunch. One of the many things that I’ve learned from watching the Food Network is that you should ask the locals what’s good. Chances are, not only will it be tasty, but it will be inexpensive. Everything was freshly made and the menu was very friendly to mixing and matching. They had homemade soups, sandwiches, and salads – all served cafeteria style. They also have a separate coffee counter. While I waited for my turn I watched one of the workers cut up freshly grilled chicken breasts. The portions were large, the price was under ten dollars, and everything was delicious. On top of that, the environment was relaxed and hangout-friendly. While I ate I watched groups of college students add to their numbers, switch tables, socialize, and study.
After lunch I walked all over campus. There is something about the pace of college that appeals to my internal metronome. Later that evening I was talking to Ben, recounting tales from my day, and I was trying to explain the feeling I get. He stopped me and said, “Becca, I know. I’ve seen it happen to you when we visit Pittsburgh. It’s like you are simultaneously excited and calm.” And that’s exactly what it is. It’s like I sense all the potential and energy of a place, and all the things that are constantly rattling around my brain go still. The rhythm resonates with me and Norman had a good beat. Here are some pictures of the campus: The architecture is consistent throughout, like the whole place sprung out of nothing one day. There are bronze statues and fountains that paths wind around. And the student body was out in full force.
After a long walk, I stopped at this little place called Earth: Deli and Cafe. They have raw fruit drinks and smoothies among other fare. My waitress was a pixie. She exuded a lazy sexuality without intent. She was dressed in a cotton top, knee length skirt and hiking boots. She stretched with her arms above her head and hummed as she waited for me to decide what kind of smoothie I wanted. All of this was done without pretense. I don’t think she was stoned. It was like she was other-worldly or something. The whole place had a vibe like I had stepped out of Norman and into somewhere else. A husky dog with startlingly blue eyes stared at me through the window as I sucked my smoothie through a straw.
At 5:00 pm, Ken came to pick me up. Originally we were going to go to another traditional Mexican restaurant, but Ken looked tired from a long week so we decided to eat in Norman. We went to this awesome pizza shop. I got a small pizza with fresh Parmesan, mushrooms, and basil. It was really good. Hideaway Pizza has won many awards for having the best pizza in Oklahoma City.
Saturday I got a chance to play AD&D for the first time in years with Ken and friends. Ken ran the game and created a throwaway character for me to play. It was a lot of fun because his group really role plays and works together. I felt very at home and seemed to share a lot of their sensibilities. Not only did we play a kick-ass game, but we talked politics, women’s issues, religion and fantasy novels. You know, all the things that you’re supposed to avoid in polite conversation. It’s always nice to spend time with intelligent and well-read individuals. And I loved being treated like one of the guys.
Finally, the vacation also afforded me the impetus to finally start this blog. I’ve been wanting to do something like this for years, and have had many false starts. I think part of that may have been that I was working in a field where confidentiality was of the utmost importance. The work was all-consuming and left little time for me to be anything other than working or sick. Also, as a civil servant, I was not really supposed to share my views on politics or any of the many things that interest me. This is meant to protect civil servants from the ever-changing political landscape, but I found it constricting. So now I am free. I have begun to fill my life with things other than doctor’s appointments and television. I find that I have more time to observe, think, and be creative. Ultimately, that gives me something to write about that I feel others will find interesting. Also, cancer and six and a half years as a social worker have provided me with some perspective on things. I hope this means that you will find my blog entertaining.