Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Going the Distance: How to Survive a Long-Distance Relationship

A friend recently asked me if I had any tips for surviving a long-distance relationship, and it made me think-- how do Alex and I do it? 

I would be lying if I said it was easy. It's hard to be away from someone you love for weeks, or even months, at a time.  Little things that wouldn't be an issue if you lived in the same place wear on you after a while, and it's hard to keep things in perspective when your friends are going out on dates or coming home to their significant other every day and not thinking twice about their good fortune.

All that being said, here are my tips for toughing out the time apart and coming out in love, and TOGETHER, on the other side:

1. Be a team. People will throw you all kinds of statistics or reasons why long-distance relationships don't work out, and it can be easy to get discouraged.  The two of you have to be united in how you fee about each other and what you want the relationship to become long-term.  Try to have a plan in mind of when the separation will be over so that there's light at the end of the tunnel.  You can stand up to all of the questions and challenges if you both know where the other person stands.  Remember, it's your relationship, not everyone else's.

2. Visit each other. This makes all the difference for me. When Alex first moved to California, I was anxious mainly because I did not know what to expect or what his brand-new life would look like. When I went to visit, I saw everything firsthand and experienced daily life with him.  When you're in an LDR (hopefully you understand my abbreviation by now!), you live very independent lives and it's important to be comfortable with what the other person is up to during all their time away from you.  If finances and schedules allow, you should each make an equal effort to visit the other.  You can think of your visits as mini-vacations, and it's so fun to have a countdown until your next visit! 

3. Trust each other. If you don't enter into your LDR with full trust in each other, you might as well prepare to join the ranks of those whose relationships have failed.  Long distance means so little time together and so much time with other people and opportunities for things to happen.  But if you know that you are serious about each other and want to wind up with them long-term, other people you encounter while apart won't be an issue. Being paranoid and constantly wondering "what if?" will not only get very old  for your significant other, but will also make you crazy!

4. Communicate. You shouldn't be in contact 24/7 by any means, but communication via some kind of technology is the only way you can maintain your bond when you're not in each other's physical presence.  It can be hard with time differences and packed schedules, but talk somehow every day, whether by Skype, a quick phone call to tell each other goodnight, or even a flirtatious text conversation to keep the spark alive.  And, speaking from personal experience, Skype and FaceTime (if you have iPhones) are an LDR must-have!

5. Keep yourself busy and stay true to your own identity. While I emphasize the importance of communication, I have to encourage you to stay busy and pursue your own hobbies while in an LDR. I find that I get the most mopey about being in a long-distance relationship when I have too much free time to sit and think about what we could be doing together. Allow plenty of time to talk to your boyfriend or girlfriend, but make weekend plans with friends and keep busy with school/work and whatever your hobbies or interests are so that you don't dwell on the present separation. 

6. Don't lose sight of the bigger picture. Remember why you are with the other person and focus on that--if they weren't worth it, you wouldn't be with them. Not everyone can handle long distance, so just the fact that you are enduring it and still head over heels for the other person says something about your relationship and your strength as individuals.  Your time apart is only a short chapter in what will hopefully be your long love story. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Green Thing

The editor of the Citizens' Advocate, the Coppell newspaper I read and interned for several summers ago, posted this story that she had received from a friend in her opinion column last Sunday.  I had never heard it before, but it is definitely worth sharing.  I took a class on sustainability while at TCU and this immediately brought back everything I learned about and considered while I was taking the class, but of course is forgotten about in my daily life.  My generation is known for taking a stand on being conscientious about the environment, and modern technology has indeed made huge strides in efficiency, but I think we often overlook the ways people were less wasteful "back in the day."  This serves as a reminder.   

The Green Thing
In the line at the supermarket, the cashier told an older woman that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment.
The woman apologized to him and explained, "We didn’t have the green thing back in my day."
The clerk responded, "That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment."
He was right — our generation didn’t have the green thing in its day.
Back then, we returned milk bottles, pop bottles and beer bottles to the source. They sent them back to the plant to be washed, sterilized and refilled and re-used. So it could use the same bottles over and over. So they weren’t recycled ( until they broke ) they were re-used.
But we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.
We walked up stairs, because we didn’t have elevators and escalators in every shop and office building.
We walked to the local shops and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go to a supermarket.
We bought fruit and veg loose – and washed them at home.
We didn’t have to throw away bins full of plastic, foam and paper packaging that needs huge recycling plants fed by monster trucks all day, everyday.
But she was right. We didn’t have the green thing in our day.
Back then, we washed the baby’s diapers because we didn’t have the throw-away kind.
We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts — wind and solar power really did dry the clothes.
Kids got hand-me-down (sometimes hand made or hand knitted) clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing shipped from the other side of the planet.
But that old lady is right; we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.
Back then shops repaired devices with funny things called spare parts – we didn’t need to throw whole items away because a small part failed.
Back then, we had one TV, one radio, in the house — not a TV in every room.
And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of Wales .
In the kitchen, we chopped, blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do everything for us.
When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspaper to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.
Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power and hand clippers for the hedges.
We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a brightly lit, air conditioned health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity and then drink millions of bottles of that special water from those plastic bottles.
But she’s right; we didn’t have the green thing back then.
We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a plastic cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water.
We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new plastic pen, and we replaced blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole plastic razor just because the blade got dull.
But we didn’t have the green thing back then.
Back then, people took the bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their parents into a 24-hour taxi service.
We had a couple of electrical outlets in a room, not a bunch of power bars each with a bank of sockets to power a dozen gadgets and appliances.
We didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest fish & chip shop.
Isn’t it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn’t have the green thing back then?
Remember, don't make old people mad.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Dallas Dining: Lucia

My most recent Dallas Dining excursion was to Lucia, also tucked in the Bishop Arts District in Oak Cliff.  It is completely unassuming from the outside (I am not kidding when I say it's on the edge of the ghetto- there was a police car with flashing lights at the house across the street when we arrived, and the hostess specifically made sure we were headed in the opposite direction of the neighborhood when we left!), but the inside is cozy and inviting, and the food is what makes this place truly worthy of all my praise!

I first heard about Lucia last spring from a woman at a baby shower, who raved about the food but warned that it was a tiny restaurant and you had to call at midnight on the first day of the month and leave a message to get a reservation for that month. She wasn't exaggerating! Marissa, my Dallas dining partner in crime, called the morning of December 1 to snag our January 7 reservation! It was completely worth the wait, but this dining destination requires advanced planning!

As I mentioned in my post about Tillman's, allow extra time for parking if you go to the Bishop Arts District on a Saturday night. It took us a few extra minutes to search for parking, wait to park our car in the valet lot (I won't go into it, but we didn't have the best experience with the valet company that evening!), and then walk to the edge of the district to Lucia.

Outside of Lucia-- totally unassuming!
Lucia only seats 36 people at a time (hence the advanced reservations!), so it feels cozy and inviting right when you walk in.  I have never been to Italy, but the decor makes me think of the Italian countryside. There are antique mirrors and bookshelves with cookbooks on the walls and a dresser for the hostess stand when you walk in the door.  The kitchen is open so you can see everything being prepared.  It feels like a home and does not give off any vibe of a stuffy restaurant.  The same is true of the waitstaff.  I wasn't sure what to expect since I knew it was such a small restaurant, but our waitress was very down-to-earth, helpful, and explained everything on the menu.
We started off with an assortment of olives (not my thing, but I still tried one) and some delicious bread. To drink, I ordered my usual favorite, prosecco.   
Delicious bread

The menu is in four sections-antipasti (starter), primi (pasta), secondi (entree), and dolci (dessert). One of the interesting things about this restaurant is that the menu changes often- perfect for frequent visitors to always taste something new, but difficult to recommend items because they may not stick around for long! You can check out their January sampler menu, http://luciadallas.com/menu.php, to get an idea of what we were given to choose from.  Apparently their salumi is a must-have, so Marissa and I will have to try it during our next visit.
Salumi, which I will try on my next visit!
Rather than stuff ourselves and be miserable, we decided to split our selections and be able to sample more dishes! The first two courses come in small or large sizes, which is very helpful for those with smaller appetites or who are sharing.  Marissa had heard that their pasta was amazing, so we selected the potato gnocchi with a Niman pork ragu.  It was delicious! There was one element that was especially unique to my taste buds, but before I could point it out, Marissa confirmed that she was also tasting it- cinnamon! Splitting it as a first course was definitely a wise decision. We then moved on to our main entree- the veal chop with escarole, sunchokes, and bagna cauda.  The man at the table next to us proclaimed it "beautiful!" when the waitress set it down.  Although I normally don't refer to my food as beautiful, it was very good! I like to think of myself as an adventurous eater, so veal was definitely out of my usual diet! It was a little on the salty side, which I didn't mind but did notice myself drinking more water in response, but very tender and had a great flavor, along with the sunchokes and sauce it was served in. Other than navigating around the large bone, it was fairly easy to split as well. 
Since we paced ourselves, we went for dessert- spice cake with caramel gelato and red wine stewed prunes. I was skeptical about the prunes, but should have known that the whole dessert would be excellent. We polished it off and could have gone for more!  

My rating for Lucia: Delicious food, inviting atmosphere, and friendly staff? Sounds like five out of five to me!

Tips: Make a reservation at the beginning of the month (must plan ahead!), allow extra time for parking, check out the sampler menu for that month online, share plates or come hungry so that you can experience all courses, and be ready for a cozy and delicious dining experience at a little Bishop Arts District treasure!

408 West Eighth Street, Suite 101
Dallas, TX 75208


Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012 Resolutions

1. Continue to work hard and give my best to my job and the people in my life.
2. Grow every day in my faith and not become complacent.
3. Exercise and eat everything in moderation. I'm not putting a specific amount of hours to work out or limit myself to a certain amount of calories, but I want to work out and eat well to a point where I feel healthy and see results.
4. Worry less, relax more.
5. Devote more time to my passions- writing, reading (which I do much less now than I used to, unfortunately), scrapbooking, cooking/baking.
6. Do something BIG this year that pushes me out of my comfort zone.