This week was a fun-filled week in Houston. Despite testing days at school and some master’s work, there was a lot of fun squeezed in this week. My students and I just finished reading The Hunger Games (if you haven’t read it yet, you are seriously behind) and it’s time to celebrate Spring Break! Richard and I are getting ready for our trip to Nicaragua tomorrow, but until then, I want to congratulate Emily and Dan on their wedding day! A few hours ago, my best Houston-ian friend walked down the sandy aisle in Hawaii to marry the man of her dreams. Although I couldn’t be with her on her special day, I am definitely with her in spirit. One week ago exactly, we were celebrating her bachelorette party, and although it was planned last minute, it was a complete blast.
Emily is probably the chillest bride I will ever meet. She ordered her cake 2 weeks before the wedding, we planned her bachelorette party together only a week before, and she was down and more than happy with anything. I am pretty sure we could’ve had her bachelorette at a bowling alley or an arcade (provided there were some drinks involved) and she would’ve been more than happy. I even tried getting her into pinterest – every bride or future bride I know, including myself, is on pinterest – and it just wasn’t her thing. She’s a very go with the flow type of girl, and I’m sure her wedding in her home state of Hawaii will be a carefree and happy event as well!
We wanted to have an aytypical bachelorette party. It was more of a pre-wedding celebration than a bachelorette since we wanted both Emily’s guy and girlfriends in Houston to join in the festivities, as well as her fiance. I won one of Howl’s Happy Hour Parties so we decided to have the bachelorette there. Howl at the Moon is a dueling piano bar that has a pretty awesome happy hour with free food – pasta, salad, and bread sticks – and $1 drink tickets for the HH winner guests. It also has 1/2 price drinks during Happy Hour. I don’t think I would ever pay to go there, but since the HH Parties come often, it’s definitely always a fun time when you or a friend has won a free party and there isn’t a cover.
After a few drinks, Emily was in a happy place, and we all sang and danced the night away. One of the piano players I actually saw in New Orleans at the Howl location on Bourbon! I thought she was amazing and little did I know that Danny, Darryl, and Emily have talked to her and seen her perform many times already in Houston. It definitely is a small world.
Emily got on stage a couple times, and they even highlighted her with her own dance. At one point in the night, one of the piano players made a shout out to South Africa. Emily jumped on stage, excited to tell them she is from South Africa, but they were skeptical asking her if she spoke Afrikaans. Sure enough, she responded with some Afrikaans, and then continued to jump around on stage in happiness. Emily – who grew up in Kenya, went to high school in South Africa, studied abroad in Spain, is a Hawaii resident, went to Virginia for undergrad, and is now in Houston teaching – is no stranger to travel. Sadly, she is also leaving Houston next year and embarking on another new adventure in her life. I hope her future travels – no matter where they take her or her new husband, Dan, are filled with only happiness.
The Houston Rodeo is a must-experience in Houston, and we missed out on the opportunity last year! We didn’t plan it too well this year either so we sort of just winged it. We luckily ended up getting free tickets (but more on that to come). We went after work on Tuesday night and went on Richard’s mission to find fried food we wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else. His coworkers told him he must try a deep fried oreo or something else uniquely deep fried. Challenge accepted.
We searched the grounds and ran across a number of interesting deep fried treats. We scarfed down some junk food and took a tour around Reliant. The rides looked like a lot of fun, but we decided to pass this time due to the prices. I’ve heard it takes days to explore the rodeo shopping, petting zoo, and all the things it has to offer, but we were short on time and made our way to the arena. We didn’t see as much of the rodeo show as we wanted, but we figured we would stay for the performer. We actually had no idea who was performing until we arrived: Enrique Iglesias. Really? Richard was actually singing the chorus of “Tonight I’m loving You” throughout the night (he changed the lyrics to “tonight I’m eating food”) so Enrique Iglesias was very appropriate.
I never knew he was such a great performer. He jumped from the stage and got incredibly close to the audience. He made his way around the giant arena and climbed over the gate that protected him from masses of screaming girls. Multiple times throughout the night, girls jumped over the fence and leaped toward him. My favorite moment during his performance was when he told security, “Security, chill man. It’s okay, it’s okay. Grab a pretzel or something” and continued to run around the arena. Richard acknowledged that security must have hated him, but it made for a good show. He sang a variety of his music from classic 90s songs, Spanish songs, to his current 2012 hits. For one of the ballads, he brought a few fans on stage, sang to them, and offered them shots (the ones over 21 of course). For the last ballad, he sang the infamous “Hero” song (I loved Jennifer Love Hewitt in that video), and ended up kissing the fan on the lips at the end! I think she died for a little bit; She was that excited. The rodeo and his performance definitely made for a fun Tuesday night.
A Random Act of Kindness
I mentioned earlier that we received free tickets. It was a random act of kindness that was greatly appreciated! We definitely didn’t have this night planned out. Richard even commented on how the lack of researching was not like me, but in my defense, I’ve been swamped with work. We just hopped in the car and made our best attempts to find a parking lot that didn’t require a permit. It proved to be a fairly difficult task. On our walk from the parking lot, we were approached by multiple people for tickets, but we decided we would just go straight to the ticket booth. We had already decided we would take the nose-bleed seats for cheap and pay for the park entrance. Being a Houston staple, we wouldn’t feel right about leaving H-town without seeing what the hubbub was all about. We were second in line, just about to purchase our tickets, when a happy Hispanic man in a cowboy hat says, “Do you guys need tickets? I mean, do you want free tickets?”Apparently he had extras he wasn’t going to use, and rather than selling them, he offered his two $40 tickets for free! Realistically, we would have bought the cheapest tickets available for the seats in the 5th or 6th floor up, but we got $80 worth of tickets (3rd floor) from a complete stranger. I contemplated taking a picture with him, but I thought that might be awkward. Either way, we thanked him multiple times for his random act of kindness. We tried to find him later and buy him a drink or two, but he sat further from us during the show and left during the performance. He was there by himself, and we wished we would’ve sat with him to keep him company. He seemed like a really cool guy.
This Random Act of Kindness comes during the same week that Richard and I discussed my future June birthday. For my 24th birthday, I want to do 24 random acts of kindness. I was inspired by various Mom blogs that do a similar tradition and share it with their children. Richard is helping me find some unique things to do, and we think it’ll be a fun tradition to start ourselves. We are also starting a RAKA, standing for Random Acts of Kindness Abroad, fund. Inspired by my parents charity while traveling and Oprah’s Big Give, RAKA will be an opportunity for people to directly see their donations be used on something tangible for people living in third world countries. They will even have a choice to have their donation be used toward a specific category: education, necessity, technology, and splurge, among others. It’s still an idea in its early stages, but we’re hoping it comes to fruition in the near future, particularly before our RTW trip. Until then, I’m looking forward to my first RAK-filled birthday!