Doing Dallas

Doing Dallas: Fancy Night

Each week, this Virginian will try a new Dallasite activity and blog about the experience. Three years ago, two of my best friends and I were rejected entry into Reunion Tower. See, we’d been out on the town in search of the perfect phytoplankton shot (who doesn’t want to cross “Throw Back a Cup of Microscopic, Phosphorescent Organisms” off of their bucket list?!) and decided to explore downtown Dallas in the process. We frolicked about Klyde Warren Park, almost crashed a wedding in the Old Red Museum (I was gung-ho but Daniel and Cody were “hesitant,”), met a man named ‘Honest Mike’ who claimed to share with us the secrets of the universe, and then realized, as we looked up, that we were at the base of Reunion Tower.

“How great would this night be if we went and got dessert in the spinny ball restaurant?! It would redeem our failure at being wedding crashers!” I said. So, in we went.

We were instantly stopped, however, in the lobby and told we were “not dressed nicely enough to enter” and so we “needed to leave and come back at a later time looking significantly more put together.” OUCH. So I had dressed casually for phytoplankton, not decked myself out to the nines for the Met Gala. Sue me. All I wanted was some cheesecake, possibly with a raspberry drizzle on top, and maybe some vanilla bean ice-cream, too. Was that too much to ask?!

Not being ones to take insult lightly, we crafted a plan. They wanted fancy? We’d show them fancy. In fact, we’d dedicate an entire night to classy speech, sophisticated style, and various sundry fancy activities. With that, Fancy Night was born. And, it just so happens that last Thursday was the Second Annual Fancy Night. Huzzah! With pinkie fingers raised high and our noses even higher, we stepped out for a night of swanky glitz, posh glamor, and urbane culture. Here is what transpired:

Order Fancy

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The most important part of Fancy Night is the menu. How will the waiter know that you’re fancy unless you order fancy foods? How will you outshine those seated around you unless your plate is laden with fancy fare? How will you pay for this if you’re a broke college student with 51 cents in your savings account?*

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We decided to dine at Rise Nº 1 because it specializes in gourmet soufflés (please read the word soufflé with a heavy French accent) and because any restaurant that has a superscript in its name is just overtly snazzy. We opted for the Smoked Salmon Soufflé (from my limited culinary experience, I’ve learned that anything with the word “smoked” or “poached” in front of it is both significantly more expensive – aka fancy – and supposedly more tasty), and a Sun-Dried Tomato and Pesto Chévre Soufflé, strictly because we didn’t know what “Chévre” was but it sounded fancy, exotic, and fun. We then followed both these up with a festive Cranberry Champagne Dessert Soufflé.

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After the scrumptious first bite, I was hooked. Soufflé is like cotton-candy for adults; it tastes like you’re eating a cloud of heavenly goodness. Seriously. I wouldn’t have been surprised if our soufflés had been brought out to our table on the back of a unicorn – they tasted that magical. Cody referred to the whole thing as a “religious experience.” We were so enraptured by the delicious wonderfulness of the food that we probably didn’t maintain a fancy aura while eating. In fact, we probably looked like a pack of hungry dogs eating for the first time in months. Regardless. A guest at the table next to us stood up and randomly started singing opera (lol WHAT…all the waiters were confused), but we took this as a sign that the gods of fanciness were bestowing their blessings upon us. Dog pack and all, I’d say we nailed the whole fancy foods thing.

*Answer: Call your parents and start singing “Fancy” by Iggy Azalea. If you’re #blessed with a voice like mine, they will literally pay you to be quiet.

Drink Fancy

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Following our dinner and operatic experience, we made our way over to the Warwick Melrose Hotel for cocktails in their Library Bar. I’d like to take a moment to point out just how much I appreciate the name “Library Bar.” As a college student, this aptly named bar opens so many doors. Like, if a professor were to ask me, “Hey, what are you doing tonight?” and I said, “Going to the Library,” they would be none the wiser that I’m in fact going to a classy cocktail establishment and not to the university library to study. How sneaky.

Anyway. The bar was wonderful, complete with a live pianist and saxophonist. Surrounded by furniture of rich mahogany, the scent of leather-bound books, and the sounds of alto-sax, I totally felt like I’d been kidnapped by Ron Burgundy and Kenny G, and like kind of a big deal.

We all ordered fancy drinks, and after trying a sip of Cody’s martini – I’d never tried a martini before – I sadly discovered that I will never be able to totally embrace the fancy life, because fancy people drink martinis, and I think martinis taste like spoiled mayonnaise. I guess I’ll just have to settle for casual, un-fancy cocktails.

Conclusion

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The minute I returned home, I took off my heels, changed into baggy pajamas, and returned to my plebian lifestyle. Sadly (but not for my bank account) Fancy Night only comes once a year. However, sometimes I sneak fancy phrases like, “I clutch my pearls” (said with a thick Southern drawl) or “Oh, how absolutely, positively charming” (said with a British accent) into my everyday chit chat. In so doing, I keep my swanky spirit alive and fan the flames of fanciness in preparation for the following year.

Chelsea is a Level 5 improv student at the DCH Training Center. She is obsessed with music of the 60s & 70s and her vices include vanilla lattes and Swedish Fish. You can check out more of Chelsea’s thoughts and ponderings HERE!

Doing Dallas: Saturday Night Lights

Each week, this Virginian will try a new Dallasite activity and blog about the experience. Apparently, in Texas, it’s a cardinal sin to not eat, sleep, live, and breathe football. Confession: I am guilty of this sin. What can I say? I grew up in a household where baseball was the main sport of focus. My dad promised my brother and me the “largest milkshake McDonald’s could make” if the Cleveland Indians ever won the World Series. My loyalties have a habit of following my sweet tooth, so it’s obvious where I threw my support. On a side note, I am still waiting for that milkshake; come on Cleveland, give me something to work with. In high school, football wasn’t really a thing either. My football team (go Cavs!) won only a SINGLE game during my four years there, and that was the result of a forfeit. I don’t know about you, but a 40-game losing streak doesn’t ever really get me riled up about a sport. Cut to college, where I am #blessed with a team that is still waitin’ on a sunny day.

As a result, I have never stayed for an entire football game during my four years of college. Or even made it to halftime, for that matter. I’d walk into the stands, take a picture or two to prove that I was there, and then peace out. Saturday night, though, was the last home football game of my undergraduate career, and I decided, for sentimentality’s sake, to give the whole football thing a try. Here are the three life lessons this experience taught me.

Be Careful What You Wish For

Football game or arctic tundra?

My go-to, “Oh I Can’t Make It to the Game,” excuse had always been that it was too hot. I could always rely on this excuse because it’s Texas – when is it not hot? “I’ll go when it gets cooler, you know, actual football weather.”*

It was so cold that ICE formed on the outside of my cup. ICE.

Well, temperatures plummeted on Saturday to ungodly lows. Seriously. I think I left a tiny, frozen piece of me stuck to one of the stadium bleachers. The cold, misty rain that fell from the sky all night really helped make the experience more bearable. Wearing earmuffs, mittens, two pairs of pants, an undershirt, a sweater, a sweatshirt, a scarf, and a wool coat, I think I resembled more of a padded-up football player than even some of the guys on the field.

*Clarification: I just said this to appear knowledgeable about the sport. In reality, I have no clue what prime football watching weather actually is. My ideal watching situation involves sitting on a couch inside somewhere, eating taquitos, and watching something on TV that is not football.

Knowledge is Power

Just because I don’t watch football doesn’t mean I don’t understand it. Well, that’s not entirely true. I understand the general objective of the game, I just don’t have all the terminology to express this understanding. As I found out Saturday night, trying to make sense of the game in laymen’s terms is not always well received by those sitting around you.

See, basically I was trying to explain to my roommate that USF was about to score on our team. “They just have one place to go until they get the point!” I said. “They cannot get that space! We have to win tonight!”

It seems abundantly clear to me that I’m quite obviously saying USF had just five yards to go until a touchdown. My roommate understood me loud and clear. Those around me, however, stared at me as if I’d just shouted a stream of expletives.

“It’s five yards until the end zone,” said a football die-hard, clearly happy to dole out un-requested knowledge. “And if they score, they get six points. Then they can kick an extra point or try for a two-point conversion.”

Hadn’t I just expressed that, but in a shorter, faster way? In the time it took for this fan to “explain” to me what I already (mostly) knew, USF could’ve scored a million touchdowns. Moral of the story: apparently in Texas, football fans get offended by the use of unofficial terminology.

Quit While You’re Ahead

Snapchat photoshoots took priority over watching football.

I tried. I really really tried to be involved in the game. But it was much more interesting to take a Snapchat photoshoot or to go buy hot chocolate or to tweet about being at the game rather than actually watching the game. We made it through the halftime show, but having withstood frostbite-worthy conditions for the past four hours – tailgating takes a lot of time and energy – we decided to call it a night. Conveniently, SMU was up 13-0 when we left. It was only hours later, as we were sitting in a restaurant eating gloriously warm queso, that we learned SMU lost IN THE LAST FOUR SECONDS OF THE GAME. How is that even possible?! They let USF get a touchdown in the last. four. seconds. Four seconds is NOTHING; heck, I could walk on hot coals for four seconds and be fine. (Probably not, but I’m trying to make a point here.)

Fortunately, having quit while we were ahead, my roommates and I had the comfort of heat and queso to soften the blow, otherwise, who knows what we might have done.

Summing it Up

I’ve always said that the day pigs fly would be the day you’d see Chelsea Grogan at a football game. But you know what? I learned some new terminology during the game, and apparently “pigskin” is another word for “football.” So Saturday night, pigs flew and I went to a football game. I may not have witnessed the entire game, but by golly, that is just something to look forward to for SMU Homecoming next year. What is life without goals?! And maybe, by that time, I’ll have brushed up on football terminology and our team will actually be on a winning streak. I mean, anything could happen when pigs fly, amiright?

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Chelsea is a Level 5 improv student at the DCH Training Center. She is obsessed with music of the 60s & 70s and her vices include vanilla lattes and Swedish Fish. You can check out more of Chelsea’s thoughts and ponderings HERE!

Doing Dallas: Meditation Medication

Each week, this Virginian will try a new Dallasite activity and blog about the experience. Not gonna lie, this past week has been stressful. As a college student, I’m entering into that wonderful time of the semester in which professors feel the need to assign a million papers, and then conspire together to make them all due on the same day. Higher education, man. To give you an idea of how it’s going, I’ve put together a brief storyboard:

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When I found out that the Crow Collection of Asian Art offers hour-long meditation sessions every Sunday in its galleries, I knew I’d stumbled across this week’s Doing Dallas.* A chance to find inner peace and feng shui? Why not?! More important, a chance to procrastinate all my work in the name of stress relief? Heck yes! Unable to pass-up such an opportunity, I headed on down to the Crow for an afternoon of Zen and deep-breathing. Here’s what happened.

*The Crow also offers weekly Tai Chi classes, which I first read as "Chai Tea" classes and misunderstood to be weekly tea tastings. I was crestfallen to learn this is not the case, as I do love a good cup of chocolate chai.

Getting There

Never having meditated before, I had no idea what to expect. Well, that’s not true. I read Siddhartha in high-school and watched the Friends episode on Unagi, so I wasn’t going into this experience completely blind. Even though I knew this would only be a mental workout, for some reason I felt compelled to also dress in workout attire (perhaps, subconsciously, I was hoping that elements of the Tai Chi/Chai Tea would be incorporated). If you were wondering, this wardrobe choice led me to stick out like a sore thumb as I wandered through the museum’s sacred ancient artifacts.

As I set off toward downtown, I suddenly became aware of my gnawing hunger. Checking the clock, I knew I’d be cutting it close if I stopped to grab some grub. A mental war then ensued – boy, would this meditation be good for me – as I tried to decide what would be worse: arriving late to a mediation or having my stomach rumblings distract from others’ practice. I opted for food and grabbed a coffee, too; suddenly scared that keeping my eyes closed for longer than 10 seconds would have me out like a baby.

Please note the small, circular butt pillow stacked  atop the larger butt pillow. Mediation doesn’t really play around when it comes to the comfortableness of your butt.

Breathe in the Light

Thankfully, my insatiable hunger did not make me late, and upon arriving I sat down on one of the many floor pillows, ready to dive into my inner consciousness. Moments later, the teacher arrived and we started right into the practice.

“We’ll start with a simple opening mediation. Breathe in, and as you do so, visualize yourself inhaling light.”

Hmm…okay. As I tried to imagine this visualization, all I could think of was the scene in the first Harry Potter movie where Dumbledore uses a deluminator to collect light from streetlamps. Distracted, I couldn’t help but think of my nose as doing the same thing, and so I started chuckling to myself. Clearly I was off to a good start.

“Now, I want you to imagine that with every out-breath, you’re exhaling thick black smoke.”

Trying to get my brain back on track, I sincerely tried to imagine this image, too. But, as I did so, I kept thinking about blowing smoke rings. This got me thinking about smoke in general, and then fire, then chestnuts roasting over an open fire, and before I knew it I was crafting my Christmas wish-list. No! Focus, Chelsea, focus.

“…and so you now have your object, so let’s think about that for the next 10 minutes.”

Crap! Somewhere between dreaming of new boots and sweaters, I’d missed the explanation of this what this “object” I was supposed to be thinking about was. Oy vey. Well, I guess the next 10 minutes would be devoted to experimenting with the feasibility of sleeping while sitting upright.

Mental Olympics

Possible dresses for my next sorority formal y/n?

By the start of the next round of meditations, my mind was gone. Hummingbirds, The Great Gatsby, the thumbs-up emoji, popsicles, you name it, I thought about it. For a while, I was consumed with worry that we weren’t saying “ommmm” like in Siddhartha, but after a few minutes my mind moved on to the next topic, even as the teacher instructed us to “focus.”

Thirty-five minutes into the hour-long meditation, the coffee I’d drank on the way over hit my bladder, and I could think of nothing else. Knowing that my practice was doomed, I decided to silently stand and head toward the restroom. On my way, I wandered through the Crow’s special Japanese fashion exhibit, and sidetracked (obviously) I stopped to take pictures.

 

What I Learned

Sunday, I learned that it is possible to fall asleep sitting upright. And that it isn’t a good idea to consume a lot of liquids before meditating. And that I might have ADD, and that I am not cut out for meditation. All in all, I’d say a lot of great lessons were learned!

And, while I may be too mentally weak for meditation, the experience was relaxing and enjoyable. So now, I’m much less like:

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And a lot more like:

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Chelsea is a Level 5 improv student at the DCH Training Center. She is obsessed with music of the 60s & 70s and her vices include vanilla lattes and Swedish Fish. You can check out more of Chelsea’s thoughts and ponderings HERE!

(Photos from https://twitter.com/ColIegeStudent)

Doing Dallas: Cows, Canton, and Camping

Each week, this Virginian will try a new Dallasite activity and blog about the experience. camping1

Back in the good ol’ days of my youth, I was quite the model Girl Scout. I wore a beret, went to sleepaway camp, and sold Thin Mints like nobody’s business. To this day, I have a very distinct memory of earning my Camper Badge. Sitting in my elementary school cafeteria, I learned with pretzel sticks how to properly stack wood to make a fire. Armed with this knowledge, it’s comforting to know that should I ever find myself lost in the woods with a bag of Utz pretzel sticks, I’ll know how to heap them just so. Yes, this pretzel pile would probably quickly attract hungry wildlife, and no, I do not know how to position real sticks to make a fire, but no matter – it was Camper Badge or bust!

My troop then set off on what I now recognize was a “glamping” adventure: we walked established trails, slept in a cabin complete with plumbing and electricity, and wore high quality paisley bandanas. Somehow, I made it through this obviously taxing, survivalist weekend in one piece. As my mother sewed my hard-earned badge onto my Brownie vest, I looked on expectantly, seeking congratulations for my display of courage and willingness to be at one with nature.

Two weeks ago, after a friend invited a group of us to go camping in Canton, TX, I learned that my childhood camping experience in no way resembled actual camping. This was a rude awakening, and I’m now considering ripping my Camper Badge from my vest, as this city girl wouldn’t last one single day alone in the wilderness.

What ‘One With Nature’ Really Means

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What Girl Scouts doesn’t prepare you for is peeing in the woods. Oh, no. They let you grow up thinking that every woods or gathering of trees comes with a complimentary latrine. Instead of pretzel art, GS should host an “Art of Peeing in Nature” class. Seriously.

Though I tried to limit my fluid intake in the three days leading up to our Canton adventure, biology got the best of me, and at 12:30 a.m. I found myself trekking alone into the great unknown to find a secluded spot. I’d have to say the best part about this midnight hike was my crippling fear of walking face first into a massive spider web and accidently swallowing the gargantic spider. Wait – no. I really loved getting bugbites on my behind. Ah, that’s not it! Okay, if I had to choose just one thing I loved, it would be the ever-present possibility of stepping on a poisonous snake and being so far from the campsite that no one would hear my cries! Nature. Gotta love it.

Camping: Basically New York Fashion Week

My glamping days required fitted sheets and knit throws, not sleeping bags. So, when packing for our excursion, I simply took the cashmere blanket off of my bed and figured I’d just wrap myself in that like a pig in a blanket – same as a sleeping bag. After checking the forecast and seeing it would be in the 50s, I opted to take my comforter too, but just in case. I mean, I walk around in t-shirts in 50-degree weather all the time and am fine, so I’d packed enough bedding, right?

Wrong. To say I turned into human popsicle would be an understatement. I ended up putting on a long-sleeve shirt, two sweatshirts, leggings (tucked into my high socks – attractive, I know), a pair of pajama pants, and another pair of socks. At one point I considered putting on my tennis shoes to function as slippers, but then realized they smelled too bad and would suffocate the other tent inhabitants.

Cold and awake, I came to three realizations. First, I’m inept at gauging temperatures; second, insulated sleeping bags are definitely a worthwhile investment; and third, I hope to never again find myself in a situation where I’m so desperately in need of an insulated sleeping bag.

Namely, Nature

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Squirrels. Roly Polies. Grasshoppers. These are all wonderful things that I appreciate when I’m not making my home among them. Throw me into a tent a few miles from civilization, though, and my appreciation for these creations plummets.

Who knew that grasshoppers actually FLEW? Not me! I guess I was thrown-off by the word hopper. More appropriate would be the name grassflyer. For 24 hours straight, I lived in constant fear that one would fly into my ear or hit me in the eye, causing me to get a paper-cut from their wings.

I saw a deer, little red spiders, possibly a scorpion, and a worm. This is more wildlife in one place than I have ever before seen, and my eyes were opened to the world around me. You could definitely say I had a Walden-like experience; Thoreau would be pleased.

Civilization

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Camping in Canton was great fun, though I’m #blessed to be back in civilization. After this experience, I feel as though I’ve rightfully re-earned my long-sought-after Camper Badge.

Chelsea is a Level 5 improv student at the DCH Training Center. She is obsessed with music of the 60s & 70s and her vices include vanilla lattes and Swedish Fish. You can check out more of Chelsea’s thoughts and ponderings HERE!

Doing Dallas: An AFFAIR to Remember

Each week, this Virginian will try a new Dallasite activity and blog about the experience. Where all your wildest dreams come true! Basically, the Disneyland of Texas.

Four years ago, one of my brother’s friends received a deep fryer for Christmas. Whoever thought it was a good idea to give a teenage boy and his friends—who at the time, amused themselves by building DIY flamethrowers and giant slingshots to catapult rotten fruit over houses—access to this kind of power had some serious misconceptions. Over the next few days (until the fryer caught fire), my brother regaled us with tales of the various food items that the boys sacrificed to the boiling oil: Oreos, Twinkies, Snickers—at one point, even a pig heart from our local Asian market. I remember being flabbergasted by the deep-fried potential of what seemed to be normal, household foods. I’d find myself wondering as I ate Goldfish or Lucky Charms what their oil-drenched counterpart would taste like, but always chided myself knowing that such deep-fried masterpieces were only figments of my imagination.

After two visits (one time simply wasn’t enough) to the State Fair of Texas a few weeks ago, I quickly discovered that I’ve been living a culinary lie and that my brother’s gastronomic experimentation was just the tip of the deep-fried iceberg.

“If you can think it, you can fry it” – State Fair of Texas Motto

The apprehensive smile of someone about to try a fried ball of butter #YOLO

Avocado. Reese’s. Butter. Hot Dogs. Cookie Dough. Oreos. Pickles. What do all these things have in common, you might be wondering? They have all been deep-fried, and I am proud, but also kind of ashamed—no, mostly ashamed, to say that I have eaten them all.

What really got me was the fried butter. I mean, come on—fried BUTTER. I imagine its creator waking up one morning and saying, “Never mind America’s obesity crisis, today I’m going to drop a fatty stick of margarine into a bubbling vat of partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, just to see if I can make an unhealthy condiment become an even more unhealthy entrée!”

Obviously, after learning of its existence, trying this food item shot to the top of my bucket-list, but after eating it, I’m scared I’m going to kick the bucket that much sooner. My order came with four little golden balls of fried butter. The first three were actually not too shabby and really just tasted like warm buttered biscuits. The fourth ball is where things got serious. Expecting it to be like the others, I popped the whole thing into my mouth, but, when I bit into it, I realized the butter had not been absorbed into the dough like it had in the others. I was surprised with a mouth full of hot liquid butter. Not gonna lie, this was unpleasant.

Paula Dean’s Heaven

Majestically running butter horses.

After eating the balls of fried butter, it felt really good to see a massive statue sculpted from butter—possibly even the same butter that was still sitting in my stomach! It made me feel more connected to my environment, like I was part of something bigger than myself, you know?

As I stared in awe at the resplendent buttered mustang statues, just one question came to mind: how in the heck did someone create this idea?! Was there a great clay shortage one year that forced artists to look to other mediums of expression? And who would’ve thought that Texas, one of the hottest states in the U.S. and the one voted* "Most Likely to Make You Melt" would be the state to experiment with such avant-garde material?! My realization that these glorious, deserving mustangs would never survive the heated journey to a museum deeply saddened me, and pushed me onward in my Fair exploration.

* Voted by me

Crikey! Is This a Barnyard or Safari?

Home of the lesser known wild Texan zebra, usually found roaming the plains of Plano.

My knowledge of Texan critters is very sparse. Still, I was surprised to encounter both giraffes and zebras in the petting zoo portion of the Fair. Walking into the exhibit, I thought I would be petting only animals originating from the Texan ecosystem—cows, goats, pigs, scorpions—and was elated to think that Texas had wild giraffes roaming about. After about half a second, I realized my mistake and was glad I hadn’t voiced my thoughts to anyone. Yet here I am voicing them now. Oops.

Large Texan

Big Tex giving us his State Fair blessing.

Apparently, Big Tex is the mainstay of the Texas State Fair. Quite honestly, I’m surprised he wasn’t made out of butter…or maybe he is, on the inside? After failing on my first visit to take a picture with the big guy—and if you didn’t take a picture, it didn’t happen—I made sure that he was the first stop on my next visit. He’s such a gem, and quite photogenic, if I do say so myself.

The State Fair of Texas was a buttery affair to remember, and I look forward to returning next year with an appetite. First on the food list for next year: fried bubble gum.

Chelsea is a Level 5 improv student at the DCH Training Center. She is obsessed with music of the 60s & 70s and her vices include vanilla lattes and Swedish Fish. You can check out more of Chelsea’s thoughts and ponderings HERE!

(Butter sculpture photo credit: Kevin Brown/State Fair of Texas)

Doing Dallas: Fall Into Fall

Each week, this Virginian will try a new Dallasite activity and blog about the experience. Sunday was the first time in as long as I can remember that it was below 70 degrees for a good majority of the day. Granted, it hovered around 66, but hey – I’ll take what I can get. I still don’t understand how we’re halfway to Halloween and it’s still hotter than blue blazes – in Virginia, we have actual seasons – but maybe that’s why they call Texas, “America’s Oven.” Actually, I’m not aware of anyone calling Texas that, but I’m pretty sure it's a fitting nickname.

Anyway, the dare-I-say chilly temperatures sent me into an autumn craze. I pulled out my sweaters, sent autumn emojis, drank spiced apple cider, and listened to Christmas music. However, this still was not enough. I wanted to go outside and spin around like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music. I wanted to jump onto a bale of hay and carve a pumpkin and maybe even hold a gourd. Was there a magical place where I could do all of these things? After conducting a serious Google search, I discovered that yes, there is. Where, you ask? Why, the Dallas Arboretum! I recruited a fellow fall lovin’ friend, donned a pair of boots, and set off on a falltastic adventure.

Pumpkins: A Love Story

#PSL? More like #PTL for pumpkins.

Upon setting foot in the Arboretum, I felt as though I had walked into It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Seriously. Every imaginable harvest vegetable was stacked tastefully around the grounds: rutabagas, pumpkins, white pumpkins, warty pumpkins, squash, zucchini? Enough veggies to keep Rachel Ray busy chopping for weeks.

Gourds galore!

Winding our way down a path, we came across a heavenly sight – a pumpkin patch! This was about to be a dream come true and a childhood fantasy fulfilled. Walking into the patch, Katie doled out to this novice some solid advice in regards to picking the perfect pumpkin: “The right pumpkin will speak to you. Don’t look too hard for it…you’ll just know when you find it.” Was this a pumpkin or a man we were talking about?! Intrigued, I decided to photo-document Katie’s pumpkin hunt. I call the following sequence, “Katie in the Patch: A Love Story.”

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Youth Culture Today

Today was apparently “Bring Your Children to the Arboretum Dressed in Halloween-Themed Apparel” Day. Needless to say, the many adorable family photo-shoots happening around the gardens (mostly featuring babies lying on pumpkins) were priceless and had us ogling. As we made our way down the pumpkin-lined paths, we soon encountered a conundrum. In front of us stood the entrance to the Children’s Garden – a special exhibit aimed at young children requiring an extra admission fee. Both of us wanted to continue into the exhibit to see more pumpkins, and, to be honest, in hopes of witnessing more precious photo-ops and maybe even a child dressed as a candy-corn! But, on the other hand, we did not want to come across as “those two grown people in the exhibit without a child” (I mean, that’s how all the Law & Order episodes start, right?)

The older you are, the more appreciative of this flower you’ll be.

A coin-flip led us to the ticket counter, where an attendant looked at me and asked, “How many children do you have, ma’am?” WHAT. Was she insinuating that I was a mother?! I still get carded in bars, and figured my sorority t-shirt and what I’ve always assumed to be a youthful face would be clear giveaways that I am very much without kids. Or, was she wondering why I, a childless 21-year-old, would be interested in entering a garden designed for people a mere third of my age.

“Oh, haha nope – it’s just me!”

“Mmmmhmmm,” she replied, judgment in her tone.

Age doesn't take away your love for lily pad bridges!

Oh gosh – all I wanted to do was see some pumpkins and maybe see a child dressed up in a peas-in-a-pod costume. Was that too much to ask?! Awash in shame, I put on my wristband and continued on into what turned out to be a fantastic exhibit…and might I add, enjoyable for people of all ages. There were water guns and tree houses and giant acorn chairs and artistic renderings of monarch butterflies; basically an outdoor Dave and Buster’s.

Though there is no age limit on fun, the excitement of the whole place quickly wore us out and we soon decided to head home, unable to keep up with the youths of today. On our way out, I happily discovered that there exist pumpkins larger than my head. And larger than a small child, for that matter. Possibly even larger than a baby cow. This discovery really amped up my autumn spirit, and on the way home as we cruised to seasonal tunes and sipped on salted caramel mochas, I insisted that we swing by Whole Foods to pick up some delicious pumpkin seeds. Happy fall, y’all!

Sizeable pumpkins.

Chelsea is a Level 4 improv student at the DCH Training Center. She is obsessed with music of the 60s & 70s and her vices include vanilla lattes and Swedish Fish. You can check out more of Chelsea’s thoughts and ponderings HERE!