Friday, August 27, 2010

That Time I Regressed to my 7 Year Old Shy Self and Just Left

Do you guys know your Meyers Briggs type?  I'm an ENTJ, which stands for extraversion, intuition, thinking, and judgement.

Extraversion.  I've taken a lot of different kinds of personality tests, and usually end up on the fence between an introvert and an extravert.  I am drawn to extraverted people, I love being social, and social activities/meeting new people is an activity I build into my life on a regular basis.

On the other hand, determining whether you are an introvert or an extravert supposedly depends on whether you draw energy from socializing with others, or internally from spending time alone.  I do get energized from meeting new people, but I also find it draining, and I need to work in alone time into my schedule so I can recharge.  So, introvert or extravert?

Because I consistently score as an ENTJ on Myers Briggs, and because when it comes down to it, I want to be an extravert, that is usually what I go with.  I was pretty shy as a kid, but luckily had a lot of friends who were naturally gregarious and social, and so I copied what they did, and that usually worked out.  Then I started working in the non profit sector doing outreach, and networking pretty much became my job to the point that now, walking into a room full of strangers and inserting myself into their conversations doesn't even phase me.  Usually.

Every once in a while though, I become that shy kid again.  It happened last night.  I had attended a party after work, and was going from said party to a benefit that my Running Buddy had been involved with.  I was only going to make the last 25 minutes or so of the event, but had already made a donation, so really just wanted to show my support, then be on my way.

It was one of those rare Pittsburgh events where I didn't know anyone. ( I say rare because the degree of separation in Pittsburgh is about 1-1.5.  Basically wherever you go you see someone you know.  And if you don't know them yet, you've probably shared the same boss, partied with their sister, or dated the same person.  Small town stuff.  But I digress...) So, I knew Running Buddy obviously, but he was busy working the event, and we were only able to say hi and chat for a minute or two.  There was also a friend of his working the event who I had met once, and said hi to, but she was busy with the Silent Auction.

So I wandered around a bit, looked at some art, smiled at strangers, and found myself standing at a table alone drinking a cup of coffee, and feigning interest in the silent auction winners being announced while playing Words With Friends on my phone (my username is hallingpreis btw if anyone wants to play).

"Go talk to some people," I thought to myself, "Just do it.  Just go say hi.  You do this all the time."  And I just reallllly didn't want to.  The event was a great success, everyone looked like they were enjoying themselves a lot, and I just didn't have the energy to introduce myself.

So you know what I did?

I picked up my bag, and I left.  Just walked out the door.  Sent Running Buddy a text saying I was sorry to hit and run, but had an early morning meeting and couldn't stay.  And walking across the bridge back into downtown, I was all alone, and it was awesome.

It was so pleasant that I couldn't even feel guilty about leaving so soon, or feel like a child, or a failed extravert.

Sometimes I think the best part of being an adult but not quite grown up, is that you can quit when you want.  Of course you should push and challenge yourself, and do something every day that scares you.  BUT, sometimes, you just need to leave.

And that makes new opportunities, and risks, and relationships, and challenges a lot less frightening.  Because you'll try it.  Maybe you'll be great at it and love it, and maybe you won't.  And the best part, is that you can always quit.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Zen and the Art of Happy Hour

Last night was the one night this week in which I had no meetings/volunteering/or events scheduled after work. What was I going to do with this free night? I was going to yoga!

I was, that is, until I was invited to a happy hour after work to celebrate the Artist, and her starting the Public Allies Pittsburgh Program next week. You win happy hour, you always do…

Anyways, we were celebrating with drinks at AVA in East Liberty. AVA is connected to the Shadow Lounge, and has been one of my favorite bars in Pittsburgh, since…gosh, since I could start going to bars.

The Shadow Lounge is fantastic. Besides having a ridiculously friendly staff, there’s something going on almost every night of the week. Live jazz, Titletown, I even sang karaoke there once, and those who know me know I NEVER sing karaoke (It was “Be my Baby” by the Ronettes for the record).

And now, NOW, they have a fantastic food menu on top of all that.

Confession: I like to eat. (It’s why I run.) So I feel I know what I’m talking about when I tell you that the food here is amazing. Awesome. Delectable! Enough positive adjectives don’t exist to explain how good the food is.

Tuesday’s are seviche night. We were lucky enough to be served an order, and I was lucky enough to have the foresight half-way through to say “Wait! You guys! Let me take a picture before it’s all gone!

I am not a food critic, so I won’t tell how the flavors danced across my palate or anything like that. What I will tell you is this; the food is simply good, unpretentious, and obviously prepared from fresh ingredients. What I will tell you, is that my one coworker hates fish. Refuses to eat it ever. The Artist has been a vegetarian since she was 9. Yet, they both L-O-V-E-D the seviche. In a word? It was delightful.

Chef Fernando Espejel – the man behind the delightful seviche, was nice enough to hang out with us for a while. Espejel got his start in the business at his family’s restaurant in Mexico City, called La Vici, which translates to The Bicycle, and was called such because his grandfather originally started the business by selling tacos on a bike. So not only is the food great, it’s authentic.

Beyond cooking at AVA/The Shadow Lounge, Chef Espejel plans to start a food cart, which will be coming to a neighborhood near you in the next couple weeks. The cart will feature a couple different options including fresh juices and fast lunches.

“To have fast food, you don’t need to go to McDonalds,” says Espejel. Awesome.

“If I could have this for lunch, I would feel like a goddess!” exclaimed my coworker Regina. Truth. I can’t wait for him to bring the cart to the Southside.

So if you haven’t been to AVA yet to eat, do yourself a favor and check out the menu. Or better yet, give me a call and we’ll go.

I may have missed out on finding inner peace at yoga, but it’s safe to say I found Zen in good company, enchanting food, and a couple glasses of cabernet.

Group shot with AVA owner Justin Strong, and Chef Fernando Espejel.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Spring Forward, Fall Back Down

It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.
- Joe Fox, You've Got Mail

It rained today, and when I left work this evening it was cool. Cool as in it made me realize that it's going to be fall soon, which, as much as y'all know I love my Pittsburgh Summers, I can't help but be excited for.

This marks the second fall in which I won't be going back to school. Even though my year follows a different schedule, there is still something about the fall. I think it might be my favorite season.

I love Pittsburgh summers, but they're fleeting and fun and not quite real life. My birthday is in the spring, which ads to the feeling of re-birth in the season, but springs in Pittsburgh tend to be rainy and cold. I also have the distracting and cliche habit of falling in love in the spring, or at least head first into a crush that won't last past labor day. Winters here are hard. But Fall, fall, is lovely.

So let's make this the best fall ever! Let's trade the strappy sandals for knee high boots. Let's put away the silk and linen, and break out the tweed and wool blends. If nothing else fall has the best fashion.

Let's stop with the frozen drinks and gin and tonics and enjoy rich red wines and spicy fall brews. Let's eat pumpkin flavored pastries, and drink hot chai tea.

Let's enjoy walking without being sticky and sweaty upon arrival. And enjoy the satisfying crunch of leaves underfoot.

Let's listen to Feist, and The National, and The Weakerthans and revel in the hurt-so-good, artificial depression and nostalgia that kind of music provides.

Let's take a weekend road-trip to New York, and drive out to see Falling Water in the changing colors, and ride our bikes for the last time. The best running happens in the fall.

Let's go on hayrides, and dress up for Halloween, and enjoy the weight we've lost over the summer before we gain it back over the holidays.

Let's buy new notebooks even if we're not going back to school. Let's get to work.

Bring it on Fall!

Friday, August 20, 2010

I don't think I'll have any less fun.

I like changing my hair. Ever since I can remember I’ve grown it out, only to then cut it all off and start over.

It’s thrilling and liberating. I never understand those girls who get their hair cut and cry. It grows back.

One thing I’ve never done however is dye my hair. And why would I? I’m a natural blonde, we’re a dying breed.

A couple of years ago, I started thinking, “I want to be a red head.” Every time I would bring it up though, everyone would say “ohhhh, no don’t do that! You have such pretty blonde hair.”

And I would be talked out of it. Until this summer, after watching Mad Men and TrueBlood, and envying Amy Adams and Rachel McAdams, and I decided to just go ahead and do it already.

So, I emailed Beth, and rather than trying to talk me out of it, she replied, “This is going to be such a great change for you!”

And you know what?

It is.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Leaving Makes You Realize Where You Should Stay

I returned to my beloved Pittsburgh yesterday afternoon after a week in Israel, and 12 hours in the Charles De Gaulle Airport outside of Paris.

The trip was incredible. It was time-out from life. Israel is the most foreign place I have ever been, and I was lucky enough to be spending the majority of time with citizens, who gave me an awesome glimpse into the culture and country that I never would have experienced simply as a tourist.

I avoided sunburn thanks to 100+ SPF sunscreen that all of the Israelis made fun of me for, I swam in the Mediterranean, the Sea of Galilee, and floated in the Dead Sea. I kneaded the dough and braided Challah, learned about Shabbat, and enjoyed Shabbat dinner with an entire extended family including a grandmother who didn't speak much English but told me, "Eat!" as she passed me dish after dish. I didn't argue, it was delicious.

I slept outside on a roof in the small town of Tzfat during a meteor shower, attended a Klezmer festival, heckled with cab drivers, prayed at the Wailing Wall, learned approximately 5-10 words in Hebrew, and had the best hummus and felafel of my life!

I'm so grateful I could do this.

Even the flights/hours upon hours of waiting in airports weren't so bad. I cut myself off of all internet this trip, which was a really nice break. I read books, (remember those?) and had a lot of time to simply be. While too much time alone in my head can be a dangerous thing, it is a necessary experience every once in a while. Some people pay a lot for therapy. Myself, I've found that taking long flights alone, forcing me to be with myself, provides an excellent outlet to work through some stuff, and come home refreshed.

And now I'm back in the real world. Back to laundry and email and work and constant connectedness. Back to Iron City beer, and my best friends, and Madmen, and understanding the language being spoken around me. It feels really good.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


"Have you ever been to the U.S?" I asked him.
"Non," he replied. "I am poor so I do not get to travel."
I nodded, "I'm poor because I travel."
"touche." he responded.

This evening, I fly to Tel Aviv. To say I'm excited is the understatement of the century. There are a lot of reasons I am thrilled for this trip, not the least of which is the fact that it's the first time I've been overseas in a couple years.

Travel is unlike regular vacation. And I've been really lucky to take some fantastic vacations over the past couple years, but it's not the same. Vacation is great, and super necessary, and we don't take enough of it. Vacation, however relaxing it may be however, doesn't supply the same release/rush as traveling.

When you travel, really get far away, you put yourself so far out of your comfort zone, that you are completely removed from any semblance of real life. That break, while not necessarily relaxing, is incredibly rejuvenating.

So, I'm off to the desert, and off the grid for a week. Shalom.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Today's 4pm Dance Party Sponsored by All Saints, The Hold Steady, and T.Rex

Kelsey Halling: you know when else life is good? When you're having a dance party at your desk cause your boss is out, and you flip your hair around and you think "Wow my hair smells great! I should wash it every day probably!"

The Artist: hahaha

The Artist: I knew you would be doing that when I saw her leave

Kelsey Halling: you know me so well

The Artist: I thought.. well time for Kelsey's 4:00 Dance party

Kelsey Halling: haha There is a direct correlation between the quality of my work and my desk dance parties