MADE: I Want to Be a Slam Poet

Who would have thought this dumbass could write poetry?

 A few months ago I started to watch TED talks at work to help break up the monotony of music I had become bored with. So instead of my background noise being random beats and lyrics, it became rhetoric by scientists and authors, adventurers’ sharing their journeys, and soon: slam poets.

My favorite talks began to be ones done by Rives and Sarah Kay. Their words resonated with me and I found myself replaying this talk over and over again, just to watch Sarah Kay’s initial poem she begins her talk with If I Should Have a Daughter. One day I found myself actually watching the entire talk over again. Since you’re probably not obsessed with spoken word and probably not going to watch the entire talk, here’s a synopsis: Sarah Kay began doing poetry at a young age and found a world of encouraging poets who helped her to find a voice from a young age. She then started her own program helping teens to do the same through their own writing.

And I found myself thinking: I wish I could do that.

And then I found myself thinking: Why can’t I do that?

And then I decided to do it. Be a slam poet that is.

When I decided this was something I wanted to do I began devouring anything and everything slam poetry. Hours flew by filled with videos from topics ranging from thighs to drug dealer’s daughters. Poems filled with passion, intelligence, conviction and people literally baring their souls for anyone to listen to.

And then I found myself thinking: I’m never going to be good at this.

It’s a discouraging thought, yes. But it was also the first time in a very long time that I had found something that I wanted to do – but wasn’t good at initially. I felt like my writing was sub-par, immature, and trite. Nothing I seemed to write lived up to anything I was watching. But I found myself still trying, still pushing, and still believing that if I worked hard – this could eventually be something I was good at.

Then I started going out to open mic/slam poetry events in Fort Worth (thanks to a very wonderful friend who gratefully brought me with him) and saw the range of poets that exist outside the realm of Youtube views. Real people, even realer stories, and the same supportive community that Sarah Kay had found.

So I began talking to people in the community and asking advice. Everyone just told me to keep writing, to keep trying, and to finally just bite the bullet and perform sooner rather than later. But I found myself still scared to even tell people this was something I was attempting to do and the idea of being onstage again terrified me.

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Side note: I did theater for almost 8 years. I have performed in poetry events such as this growing up, but always with the words of others. The catch is that I never felt I was good enough because I never advanced in competitions. I always felt inadequate or never quite good enough compared to other performers (see: reasons why I didn’t major in theater) so I had a stigma in my mind that this was something I had already proven wasn’t a good fit for me. Despite my internal negativity, I kept telling myself how much I had changed since high school, how much more confident I am in myself now, and how this sense of self (and an overly determined self) would be the key to actually succeeding.

So…I did it.



After finally writing a poem that I felt accurately reflected me for my first piece, I did spoken word at an open mic. I’ve performed it twice now and I am in love (albeit still terrified). It’s something I think about daily and it’s a creative and challenging outlet I find myself enjoying more and more every day. The people in this community are incredible and inspiring in themselves and just being able to try to become a part of this is exhilarating. My friends and family have been nothing but supportive throughout the process and without their ears to listen and their own words of encouragement ringing in my ears – I never would have had the balls to do it.

While yes I’m writing this as a reflection on my own personal process, I also want to just tell you that YES, YOU CAN DO WHATEVER YOU SET YOUR MIND TO. It can be small, big, scary, exciting, uncomfortable, stupid, silly, daring, or whatever you find yourself yearning to do. Just bite the bullet and believe that you CAN. I may not ever be an ‘amazing’ slam poet, but I will always feel amazing knowing this was something I set my mind to and accomplished, despite being intimidated and feeling inadequate.

And if you’re curious how it went….

Old Loves Die-Hard: Dia de los Toadies Review

There was an array of Fort Worth folk, from young to old, who came out to ring in the 7th Annual Dia de los Toadies Festival this Saturday at Panther Island Pavilion. With the aptly timed weather transformation this weekend, it was a nice change of pace for the locals to come out in full force to support the beloved Toadies, as well as a myriad of other native Texas (specifically Fort Worthian) artists. It was nice to look around the crowd and see Vans that weren’t being worn ironically and plaid shirts that were actually suitable for the event.

The Saturday show followed an acoustic Friday evening that featured Doug Burr, Rhett Miller, and the Toadies. Due to weather conditions the event was moved to The Shack, which tinged the event with a weathered and worn, light rock hoe down feeling (but in a good way) which begged me to question why more events haven’t been held at the venue. All the acts played with the gusto of a full band, giving the crowd their utmost energy while still providing that sense of genuine intimacy to the smaller crowd that showed up despite the undesirable weather conditions. Rain or shine, true fans gave an outpouring of support for the acoustic set. And Rhett Miller still performed his trademark, over-exaggerated guitar strumming and hip swinging during his solo set.

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However, the weather subsided and opened the gates for a full throttle rock festival on Saturday. Starting off the day were local acts Blank-Men and The Longshots, providing two various spectrums of self-described synth-punk and junk-rock, respectively. The Dallas band Somebody’s Darling and another Fort Worth local, Quaker City Nighthawks, fit in well with the rock vibe of the evening while providing that just-needed sense of soul n’ roll. Pleasant Grove carried over the folk-rock of the previous evening, showcasing some new material for the audience. Austin band Residual Kid brought the grime, grunge, and that little bit of youthful garage needed to prepare the audience for an evening of ‘Rubbernecking’. Also out of Austin, Ume’s guitar and distortion-heavy garage-inspired sound closed out a mellow set on the second stage that spoke to to the burgeoning new-age acid-rock genre.

As the sun set and the skyline of Fort Worth appeared, it was hard to ignore the energy of the crowd. The pairing of the Old 97’s and the Toadies may seem random to some, however they showcase the vast differences of the city of Fort Worth while by bringing out music lovers from distinct genres. The Old 97’s set a specific tone for the evening with their mix of country and alt-rock bringing out the best in the crowd. Rhett Miller crooned, “Let’s Get Drunk and Get it On” to a crowd that swooned over his vacillating hips.

This year’s Dia de los Toadies may have been the seventh installation of the event, however it was also marked by the 20th Anniversary Release of the Toadies’ Rubberneck album. With the Fort Worth skyline highlighting the band as they cruised through their set, it was hard not feel a sense of pride and love for a Fort Worth local. When the Toadies began playing their final run-through of the entire dark-rock album, it was hard to ignore the nostalgia of the audience. Men dragged their kids to the front of the stage to get a glimpse of their former selves, while also indoctrinating the next generation of rockers and head bangers. The seemingly die-hard fan base rocked out just as hard as the musicians onstage. But not quite as hard, as the Toadies literally blew out their sound system while performing, “Tyler”, giving fans a chance to sing their hearts out to a treasured Fort Worth band. It was a pleasure to see a seasoned veteran take the stage. While the Toadies powered through their set with the same vigor and voice of a band 15 years younger, they did little chit chat throughout the set list, save for a comment from Todd Lewis. “Thank you most to the fans – y’all have been with us for 20 years, which is unheard of.” 

In reality, the only thing heard that evening was pulsing rock reverberating on the backbone of the city skyline, which felt right in line with the heartbeat of Fort Worth.



Thank you to Keep Fort Worth Funky for helping to keep the city up ‘up to funk’ on everything. Ya’ll rock.


A Classification of Man

Women have a tendency to believe that just because a guy has a penis, that immediately makes him a man.

It doesn’t.

In fact, the penis is a defining character of a man but capability of erection ≠ define a dude entirely. In my wide travels of the world (and the many men who inhabit it) I have found the following evidence to be corroborated across the country by the male population*. Women have the capability to multi-task; oftentimes finding themselves in a constant balancing act between girl and woman which pretty much starts at age 13. Men, however, begin their stage of life as a boy, transition into a guy, and then finally mature into a man.

Now these stages, while dependent on age, are not wholly determined by it. I have met men who are 15 and I have met many, many a boy who is 30. In addition, men are usually catapulted into a new phase by circumstances surrounding them – various pressures force them to grow up into the men they usually aren’t expecting to become. Additionally – just because a man enters into a phase doesn’t mean he can’t backslide into one (think about a man after a break up…he becomes a boy again, even if temporarily) which speaks to the fluidity of life and of man.

New let’s get down to business.

Defining a Man

Ryan Gosling: still adorable and loveable as boy. But really…what are you gonna do with him?

a.) boy: usually a male will be a boy from 12-23. He probably wearing jeans he hasn’t washed since…we’re not really sure when because he doesn’t know how to do his own laundry. He is unstable, unsure of himself, and unaware of the repercussions of his actions. Think: high school boys with acne, frat boys trying desperately to fit in, and boys who refuse to grow up  such as grown men who play video games all day, don’t do their dishes, and expect a women to become their mothers…because they are boys. Boys will be boys and that means boys will break your heart – accidentally of course – just like they broke their mom’s favorite statue. “Accidentally”

Ryan Gosling: Still so hot as a guy, but just can’t seem to get shit together.

b.) guy: usually 23-29. He is in a transition phase. He’s a little more confident in himself. He’s also beginning to get in tune with what he wants in his life. Which may or may not be playing guitar, writing poetry, power lifting, or fantasy football. He’s beginning to figure out how to do his own laundry…some of the time, like when he invites a girl over to ‘hang out’. He’s actively pursuing a future but he’s probably still broke (ie: grad students, entry level jobs, start-up entrepreneurs). Although he’s matured from a boy into a guy – he’s still unable to communicate feelings effectively, cares about himself and his life before the needs of others and he will probably choose his bros over hoes any day. As a girl, you’re just something he has fun doing…sometimes.

Ryan Gosling: as a man, he is everything and more. He buys groceries and rocks a mean suit. Oh and he’s still gorgeous.
It just felt like there should be one more photo of Ryan Gosling.

c.) man: usually 29-onward. There is a light that goes on with men as they approach 30 (because as young adults we becoming increasingly aware of ourselves as we move from 2 to 3…like toddlers) so he’s starting to get his shit together. He knows who he is and what he wants. He wears matching socks. He’s got a good job with a stable income. He has a home that is decorated (ie: he has a comforter that matches his sheets) complete with detergent he buys for himself. He has his own life that he genuinely wants a woman to be a part of. You will have an adult relationship where you compromise, where you go on real dates, and ultimately learn what it feels like to be treated as a woman. He understands what it means to care about other people (ie: he picks friends up from the airport without groaning, takes responsibility for getting your keys when you’ve locked them in the car) and actively steps up to the plate to take responsibility for someone other than himself.

It’s this shift that presents an opportunity for women to be girls. Since we’re not stressing out about everything from dishes to dudes and all the way back to dicks – we can focus on having fun. When men stop being boys or guys and start to be men who step up and take part in the responsibility – both partners can find balance in being adults while quietly slipping back and forth into childlike bliss with each other.

And the laundry always gets done.

*This writer is completely inept at understanding men and shouldn’t be trusted even remotely on this subject.

Big Girls, You are Beautiful

“Oh my God, what if you wake up some day, and you’re 65 or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools or oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you have a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative [and beautiful] life, of imagination and radical silliness. It’s going to break your heart.” – Anne Lamott

There are songs about it. There are videos circulating the internet about it. There are Pin-spiration quotes. There are magazine articles written about it. Studies over it. Conversations. Presentations. Lectures. Movements dedicated to helping women to accept their bodies. I can’t help but wonder when women are going to stop striving towards an unattainable and manufactured ideal crafted by an industry founded on a $56 billion revenue (in 2013 alone).

That’s a lot of shampoo, lotions, perfumes, diet pills, eyeliner, tanning memberships, fitness clothes, and waxing appointments for the beautiful ladies of the United States to be purchasing each year for the sake of living up to someone else’s standard of beauty. It is not only an industry, it is comparing ourselves to another person’s interpretation of beauty. They are determining how we view ourselves and how we interpret each other – whether it’s a stranger we pass by on the street or our best friend or even our mothers – who could all be construed by the media as ‘ugly’ or ‘fat’ in some form or fashion.

Nobody calls my momma fat or ugly. Better yet, nobody calls me fat or ugly.

From seeing the positive in all situations by writing down what makes me happy every day to crafting outfits from essentially the discarded garbage from people’s closets – I’m not exactly adhering the norms of everyone else around me. But every day I find myself questioning my body, my hair, or my facial features and wondering, “Am I even pretty?” and most of the time the voice in my head – essentially someone else’s voice – is saying no.

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Eleanor Roosevelt 

When I stand in front of the mirror and I look at my body – I’m not worried about it. I think my eyes look nice (sans mascara), I can feel the strength in my legs that I’ve been cultivating in yoga, my hair is finally long (for me), and I can look at it with love (most of the time) rather than disdain. But place me beside another woman and I’ll scrutinize, compare, contrast, and dissect every small difference between us and end up feeling like a terribly misshapen troll.

Robyn Lawley

For what? What purpose does this serve anyone? By cutting ourselves down – are we helping anyone? By placing one person on a pedestal and another on the dirty ground are we not encouraging a caste system of sorts in the realm of the beauty world?

At 23, I feel as if I have two options. Love my body now and embrace it for everything that it can and can’t do, that it will and won’t be, and learn that self-love radiates more than any self-tanning lotion could ever. Or, do I continue hating it, trying to change it, alter it to match someone else, and spend an unnecessary amount of time worrying about my thigh gap (or lack there of) until I realize the former to be true.

Hm. Let me think.

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” – Says everyone, ever.

So I’m cultivating my own sense of beauty. Fuck, if I’m going to develop my own sense of style and way of thinking, shouldn’t my standard of beauty also be self-tailored to my own ideals? So here it is, not for your judgement or your adoption of it, but for myself.

Beauty is drinking beer because you love it and not giving a damn about your belly. It’s putting on red lipstick and nothing else, because even on your worst days a smile is all you need. It’s hair that may or may not have been combed or may or may not be dried with a hairdryer or the wind out of your open window in the middle of Texas summer. It’s natural skin tanned by the sun or pale like the moon. Curves in all the right places and all the wrong places – the difference is knowing when to flaunt them. Clothes that you feel good in, that you can sit down comfortably in, or high five in, or bend over in, or cuddle in.

Beauty is knowing what makes you beautiful. For me, I have a mind, a witty sense of humor, big boobs, strong legs, and sense of who I am and who I want to become. I am a babe because I choose to be one, not because someone told me that I am.

beau·ty: (from

1. the quality present in a thing or person that gives deep satisfaction to the mind

2. a beautiful person or thing of beauty

3. What you decide to define it as. 


Inspiring links: No You Don’t Look Fat in That Bikini! Some Say This Model Is Fat.

Previously On

As of late I’ve experienced a tremendous shift in my life. I’ve often times reflected on my life and thought to myself that I’m starring in a sitcom that God would refer to as his ‘guilty pleasure show’. So I’m comparing my current life changes to the end of a sitcom’s season. The finale is full of drama – they’ve made sure to keep you hooked throughout the summer. For me it was leaving the winery without really having a plan – so it felt like that writer’s strike all over again: Where the fuck are we going with this now?

Then I was unemployed. It was like patiently awaiting the return of the series, wondering how the hell they’re going to tie up those loose ends. During the hiatus, you’re bored with too much time on your hands. You find a new hobby outdoors and it’s fulfilling and all – but something is still missing. Just when you think you’re at your wit’s end, after you’ve had enough reruns to stave off the hunger for your favorite characters’ antics, it’s time for the new season to premiere. The premiere starts off with

Previously on (insert clever sitcom title here)…

There’s flashbacks of life and it’s all coming back. They show you clips from earlier seasons, making sure you’re prepped for whats to come. My brief internship stints. High school ad design. NSAC. Every Strategic Communications class I have ever taken. My graphic design classes I took when I was studying abroad. Words about tracking and leading and kerning and Adobe shortcuts and packaging files and staring at computer screens and nudging words half a pica and anything I have ever learned about advertising and design. All my professional highlights scroll through in a series of blurred knowledge – like I just finished an entire season on Netflix in a day – I know what happened, relatively, but it’s a lot to process.

Now you’re somewhat caught up to speed. They made the theme song longer so it takes you a while to get to good stuff (much like my new commute to work). You’re a little uncomfortable at first. It’s the same, yes, but things are just a little different. They’ve changed the setting of the show. (like when they moved Piper to that crazy-ass prison in Chicago – you were like:)

There’s some new characters and you’re not sure how they are going to play out throughout the season. You’re in a whole new time slot. I went from being a late night show, full of boozing and inappropriate social situations that you couldn’t help but laugh at when it’s past 2 a.m. Now I’m in a prime time spot. And my series would be airing before DVR and TiVo – so you have to be right on time to see it.

As you get into the show, you realize they’re make some attempts to tie in the last season but their having difficulty. And you start to feel like this:

But then there’s some of the same wittiness returning to the show. And the spark of hope is back and you realize why you love this show and why you would watch it anyway.

But in all seriousness: I love my new job. I feel empowered, smart, capable, and more confident in myself because I’m acknowledging my abilities once again. I’m also a contributing member of society once more. This time, however, my work is valued by my employer. I work hard and get to play hard on the weekends – I’m making the most of it already with planning to float some rivers, exploring some kayaking spots, going to California and ATX, and already planning on how to spend my vacation days in South America next year – so I don’t feel like I’m compromising too much of myself. But still, I can’t help feeling like I sold out a little bit. Or truly, I sold out one part of myself. “Fun Briana” has been reigned in exponentially more and sooner than I had expected. Granted she got some badass airtime last season (and a whole lot during the hiatus) but now she’s only a minor character in the majority of the episodes. Tucked away, used for comic relief during the stressful and dramatic encounters that now dominate the show.) But it’s not like I was forced to kill her off or anything, so there’s that. It feels weird when I go and get coffee right after sunrise and commit myself to spending roughly the next 11 hours at new job. Then again, I’m thriving in it.

By the end of the episode, you’re hungry for what’s to come. You’re not sure what to expect, but you are anticipating some plot twists, preparing yourself for some predictability, and still pining away for the romance to finally bud (Lord knows I’m getting bored with this whole ‘single girl’ angle they’re taking) and ultimately you’re satisfied and ready for more.

Stay tuned for next week’s episode…



A Tinderella Story

I will probably be one of the only people who will ever openly admit that I unashamedly used* Tinder.

And you will probably not be the first person to judge me for it.

Please excuse me while I step up onto my dating soapbox for a moment. The stigma attached to Tinder is something I want to openly address to everyone who gives that ridiculously judgmental, mouth agape, unbelieving stare to their friends when they admit to downloading the app. The disbelief that anyone half-way normal would use a dating app is that incredulous to you? Did you know that serial killers have a disproportionately low purchase rate for smart phones? And yes, I may have completely made that up, just like most people make up the fact that only closet shut-ins and sex addicts use Tinder. Which they do, but it’s not like everyone on there is a psychopath. But here are a couple weirdos I’ve come across in my travels around the Tindernation:

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Meeting on Tinder: You download a ‘dating’ app that links to your Facebook profile. You list photos of yourself that display your attractiveness/fun demeanor and have a small blurb about you. You begin pursuing profiles of people (after selecting the age range and physical distance you are willing to go). You swipe right or left to say ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ based on a completely superficial profile based on looks and common interests/friends pulled from Facebook, and if both parties say ‘Yes’ then ‘It’s a Match!” and you can start talking to them. Now take a gander at what has been said:


(What I’m displaying here is probably not going to help the case I’m arguing, but honestly some of what you see on the app is too funny not to share sometimes)

The main point that I want to make to everyone is that using Tinder is absolutely no different than meeting someone in a bar. Yet for some reason, meeting someone in a bar and going out with them is a completely acceptable social norm and meeting someone from Tinder is chalked up to be the equivalent of signing your own Missing Persons report.

Meeting in a bar: Initially, you scope out the bar seeking someone who is relatively the same age as you that you are relatively attracted to physically. Then you tepidly test the waters with causal eye glances to let them know you are interested and to see if it reciprocated. When mutual interest is confirmed, you start a conversation – attempting to find common ground with intelligence, humor, interests, or a shared affinity for the same beer. Depending on how your evening is going, you may only spend 10 minutes talking to a person who previously was considered a stranger and give them your phone number. In which case, you accept a date with them on the pretense of a drunken interaction, trusting that because you met them in public in the first place, they couldn’t possibly murder you.

I’m sorry, but that’s pretty much the same thing. Don’t worry though, I’m not fooling myself into thinking I’ll meet the perfect Tinderfella. I am aware there are varying factors that you can’t see on the internet like height, vocal pitch, and a genuine spark that can’t be manufactured over clever messages – but my core argument is the damn stigma attached to this app is overwhelming and I think it’s unwarranted. If I want to sit from the comfort of my home in my pajamas and search for the potential next love of my life during commercial breaks instead of going out to do it – I don’t want to be judged for it.

In a growing and changing generation, we are altering the way we form relationships both romantically and platonically. My friends can get to know me by quickly checking my latest Instagram posts, we can review our love interests on Lulu, and we can literally watch a newborn family member grow up on Facebook – all under the pretense that it is easier to gauge a person through a screen than in person. It’s no surprise to me that a generation of boys who grew up spending their free time playing Call of Duty with their friends using a headset, instead of sitting side by side, would choose to once again place a screen between themselves and a potential conquest.

As friend requests become more frequent than handshakes, we’re trading the Classifieds for Craigslist, and exchanging newspaper articles for 120 character Twitter posts, or worse, Buzzfeed GIF lists. Can it be so hard to believe that dating is the next form of traditional communication that we’ll bypass?

I would argue that it’s already happening.

Briana Blog

*Upon completing this post, I promptly deleted Tinder in favor a traditional dating methods, like stalking cute men in coffee shops longingly.

Fort Worth, I Love You.

fort worthWhen I first decided to stay in Texas sometimes I would catch myself wondering why I was still there I’d graduated past my initial reason for coming here in the first place. I chose Texas Christian University based on the close proximity to my longtime boyfriend and because I looked good great in purple, but the least appealing feature of school was it being in Fort Worthless (as I used to call it). While I was a student I assumed the level of conformity necessary to survive at TCU. Joining a sorority and having a general care for the football team became staples, yes, but I was getting an amazing education I wouldn’t trade for the world – which was clearly how to handle myself at the beer pong table.

Kidding. Sort of.

Then, I found a man who introduced me to another side of this lovely town. He helped me to reacquaint myself with the very massive world outside of the TCU bubble. I found a love for the local music, for the mom-and-pop shops around town, for the plethora of amazing people who choose to live here because they like a city and not a campus. I stumbled upon a network of people who filled me with a satisfying joy because they were individuals who saw Fort Worth as a fast-growing opportunity for fun and personal growth. clearforkFort Worth has a hometown vibe that is undeniable. Fairmount, where hipsters run-a-muck between craft beer paradise and dive bars full of familiar faces. Jukeboxes full of melodies handmade down the block from the bars in a home with a fully functioning front porch. A tightly knit community, clearly evident from the literal knitted decorations adorning the bike racks along the street.

coffeeThen cruise on down to the Stockyards where tourists come and go by day, and locals swarm the same spots every weekend. See the same cowboy hats and know exactly which dance moves they’ll be spinning out on the dance floor that night. Get asked the same questions, like where to eat or what to see and give the same generic answers, knowing deep down you’re a little proud of the kitschy culture down here where the smell of cow pies litters the air with the sound of plucky guitar strings and country twang accents.

sundance sqaureDowntown is a beacon of Fort Worth, with Sundance Square the center jewel among the glittering tree lights that line the quaint streets. Local stores dot the cobblestone street of Camp Bowie, reminding us  that everywhere in this city there is a collision of history, while forging onto new frontier. The dirty Trinity River glides throughout the city, but who can care less about cleanliness when you can watch a free concert from a tube at Panther Island Pavilion.

tube trinityOn a fortunate day off, I can wake up and grab locally roasted coffee from a barista who knows my name. I can go and sit in the Botanic Gardens or the Water Gardens. If by chance it’s a rainy day, I can go to one of the three museums nestled next to each other in the Cultural District and spend the day admiring a well-curated collection of artists from around the world. I have the option of going to a brewery tour, the zoo, bike riding, paddle boarding, or an outdoor concert on a small patch of green. The craziest part? The majority of these options are free because Fort Worth loves it’s people just as much as the people love it. It’s a mutually satisfying relationship that contributes to the friendly smiles, generous conversations, and general happiness you find threaded throughout this lovely city.

greenmuseum water gard botanic

Now, I realize it’s a no-brainer why I stayed. But somehow I still get questioned for my choice. This post is for those of you that don’t understand the wonderful nature of Fort Worth. Hopefully you don’t realize it is, in fact, terrific.

We don’t need it turning into Austin. I hear Dallas is nice.

What I’ve Learned Working at a Winery

I graduated in May 2013 and since then I have not really made any progress towards getting a job relating to my degree. But it’s due to a lack of effort or desire rather than rejection.

I started working at winery while I was still in college and I fell in love with it. My co-workers brought me joy, my customers made me happy, and my product made me drunk. What exactly was there to complain about?

But like any job, people come and go, procedures change, and customers cycle out over time. It’s inevitable. I still love my job, but since becoming a college graduate and then taking on a role as an assistant manager I’ve come to look at it from a very different perspective.

The set up of our winery is a bar and we are located in tourist part of the city. I’ve seen people from all over the country and world walk in. I’ve met people who know about vineyards and wine regions to those who deem Moscato and Boone’s Farm to be the ultimate wines. Ultimately I’ve begun to judge people based on how they walk into the winery. Do they look confused and lost? Do they look thirsty? Are they wearing anything bedazzled? Is there hair teased? All these check marks mentally run through my mind as I causally greet them and introduce our little business model.

Boones Farm: Your virginity never stood a chance.

Regardless of these seemingly pre-programmed questions, I’ve also been taught and re-taught not to judge a book by it’s cover. The woman with the thickest redneck accent is the wealthiest and most generous customer who I’ve encountered. The rough looking bikers who have become close friends who encourage adventure and portray a beautiful image of high school sweethearts 20 years later. The loner male wearing sagging jeans who wandered in on a Monday asking for Chianti with an impeccable Italian accent who wanted nothing more than a glass of wine and for someone to listen to his time stationed in Naples, Italy. The woman who just spent three weeks away for work, whose first place she wants to arrive is the winery because it literally feels like home to her.

These people remind me daily how many beautiful individuals there are in the world and how lucky I am to serve them and help them bring a bit of blurriness to their rather hectic every day lives. Moments like these punctuate the day in and day out at work and remind me why it matters that I am here. Strangers: I recognize you, I listen to you, and I deeply care about how your day was when no one else really gives a damn that you had an eye infection that caused you to lose your dog and now you are crying into your glass of Merlot and I’m bringing you a napkin to wipe up your tears.

On the flip side, there are those individuals who make you feel ashamed for being a server. These people relish in the idea of being demanding and ordering someone around, dangling a tip in your face in exchange for a smile, a glass of water, conversation, three glasses of wine, endless questions about how the wine is made, and two bags of bottles later they scribble in the tip line a measly two dollars and scurry out after turning the receipt paper over to hide their gross injustice to you. These people are small and weak in their every day lives and want to make someone, just for a moment, feel as insignificant as they feel daily. I feel sorry for them because they see me as a pair of hands holding a bottle, rather than for a person capable of being much more to them.

Throughout the myriad of tasting glasses, empty clanking of bottles, spilled wine, drunken laughter, and handshakes I hope that I’ve made a difference in someone’s life even if it was for a moment. I hope I am part of story later on down the road. I have faith that I am more than just a lowly wine-tress because I believe that I am.

More importantly, however, is the fact that I allow people to become a part of my story. I enjoy seeing their faces and hearing about their lives just as much as they enjoy the wine I serve them. At this junction, over a year into working here, I have come to love the people more than my co-workers and the wine. When my time comes to a close here and five years later I am applying for a job and I’m asked to explain a gap in my resume, I want to simply reply, “I was busy learning how to treat people they way we all want to be treated deep down by strangers.”

And I truly hope that’s sufficient because I’m not sure that, “I was busy being a wine-o” will be.

2014, Come at Me Bro.

It’s four whole days into a new year and I finally have a little perspective on my last year in the world.

I graduated college. I traveled 3,000 miles across the Western coast of America with my best friend. I moved into my first one bedroom apartment alone. I was given my first promotion at work. I fell in love and I broke a couple hearts at the same time. I finally shed some of the anxiety and stress that was haunting me daily last year, so much so that most of the people in my life describe my default mood as ‘ridiculously happy’. I went to Montreal, Canada for a couple days. I fulfilled my college goal of being the Creative Director for our university advertising team. I finally got a cat. I grew/am growing my hair out. And even though I didn’t get to travel outside North America this year, I was still able to host a few traveling Europeans on my couch, fulfilling my cultural thirst.

Overall, 2013 was a wonderful year.

729da6db8843a2252de972f690b13b00Just a refresher, I posted this blog almost a year ago and outlined what I wanted to achieve in 2013. Below are the resolutions I made to myself last year:

  1. Treat others how you want to be treated.
  2. Don’t let others define your happiness.
  3. Start believing that everything will work out and stop stressing about what could happen.
  4. Have the courage to trust myself and be confident in myself. Commit to actions that push me forward, instead of holding me back.
  5. Be happy and healthy.

I wrote these down on the very first page of my journal I bought and looked at them fairly frequently, enough so that I consciously kept to my goals throughout the year. Daily, I challenged myself and for the first time I’ve been able to clearly look back and say that I actually stayed true to my resolutions for the most part.

In 2014 I want to continue with these same resolutions and building a foundation for a better life for myself and those who interact with me on a daily basis. I’m challenging myself to write down one thing that makes me happy each day, whether it’s something small like drinking coffee in my sun-filled living room while listening to reggae or if it is a wonderful memory that I’ll always remember like dancing in the new year to my favorite band and pulling a neck muscle. Regardless of who, what, or where I find myself in the next year, I want to be mindful of how happiness is threaded throughout my daily life. It will be a nice obstacle to the negativity that can sometimes overwhelm us each day, to try and find the joy hidden beneath the unnecessary daily evils.

26e95b6b654e1f63d66b9498f6e7aca5I hope everyone else is setting attainable and positive goals for the coming year as well! I hope to travel abroad once more- hopefully teaching English somewhere (more on that later) – and travel within America to Nashville, Charlotte, and Washington D.C. on another cross country road trip, complete with camping and debauchery laden stories. But most of all I want to continue to grow into the badass bitch that I finally know I am meant to be. Cheers to everyone starting off the New Year right for you!

2014: The Year of the Badass Bitches

My Last Hundred Bucks: Normal Texas Stuff

Where’d your last hundo go, Briana Wucinski?

$4.93: Starbucks large venti soy latte. It worries me that almost every one of these begins or contains an unnecessary coffee purchase. Then I realize how essential caffeine is to the world and I once again understand.

$15: Gas, because you can’t get anywhere in Texas without a car. Thank you wide open spaces.

$4: I chipped in for tacos with a friend. You also can’t go a week in Texas without tacos.

$25.98: Two bottles of wine I bought for our group of friends. Luckily this was paid back in copious amounts of cocktails at the next bar(s) we attended that evening.

$10: Brewery tour on a Saturday. This was possibly the best money I’ve spent so far, because not only did I get three fancy craft beers, I also got to keep the pint glass. My entire glassware collection has been cultivated from brewery tours’ free pint glasses. I consider it a thrifty bonus to getting day drunk on a Saturday afternoon.

$19: Splitting a very, very large pizza that ended up feeding me for my next three meals.

$24: Spent at various bars on booze that fuels my young 20-something blood. I ended up $4 short at the final bar and my friend had to spot me. Guess I’m out until my next payday.

Worth it.

Briana Wucinski lives in … Texas.

*Originally posted on The Billfold as part of their It Was Here and Then It Was Gone series.