Tag Archives: Birmingham

Day Three: Crisis Center/Rape Response

crises-centerThe Crisis Center is an organization local to Birmingham, but there are many similar organizations around the country. Though I can’t speak for national call centers, since the election, the Birmingham Crisis Center has experienced a much higher than normal volume of calls. Per their website, their mission is “to serve the unmet needs of people experiencing personal crisis or mental health issues and respond with services that promote coping, emotional health and well-being.”

In addition to their Crisis Line, they also offer services for rape response, teens, kids, and seniors. Rape Response is an extremely valuable asset for Birmingham, and has a specially trained nurse on site 24/7.

If you’re interested in getting involved, they take donations here. They’re constantly in need of volunteers at the crisis line. In case you need their care, their main number is 205-323-7777.

This is part of a series on organizations that will fight tooth and nail to protect the rights of all. If you are looking for resources on allyship other than organizations you can support, check out this list.

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New Kid On The Block: Oak + Raleigh

Usually, I'd have a shot of the cafe or outside of the building to show the ambiance, but it was raining cats and dogs that night.

My beer!

With the weather warming up, patio season is fast approaching. This spring, one place I’ll be adding to my patio tour will probably be Homewood’s Oak + Raleigh. Though they’re still working on their patio, it should be a cool spot to hang out with a frosty beer on a warm day.

Nestled in the heart of West Homewood, Oak + Raleigh is a  combination of bar and deli. But don’t expect plain deli sandwiches or the usual five domestic beers — this neighborhood joint is trying to put itself on the map for its mixture of elevated deli cuisine, traditional bar snacks, and a wide-ranging selection of beers and wines, many of which are available for carry-out purchase.

The space inside is a whimsical blend of arcade, bar, and restaurant. They serve beer and wine only, but offer about 100 beers in cans and on draft and around 30 bottles of wine to go. Brock Owen, the bar manager, made some pretty cool beer suggestions throughout the evening — I started with the Bosteels Pauwel Kwak, a traditional Belgian ale served in a really, really cool glass. Adam began with the Jolly Pumpkin Oro de Calabazo, which was light and floral on the nose, with a pleasantly sour, well-balanced (and dry) body. Tasty.

Usually, I'd have a shot of the cafe or outside of the building to show the ambiance, but it was raining cats and dogs the night we ate there.

Usually, I’d have a shot of the cafe or outside of the building to show the ambiance, but it was raining cats and dogs the night we ate there.

On the food side, much of their produce is sourced from their owners’ garden, and what’s not is purchased as locally as possible. Despite the small kitchen, all of their pickles and pâté are made in house. While we were there, we started with the Pâté B&J. The texture was nicely varied, with crisp apple, crunchy bacon, and sweet fig jam setting off the creamy pâté.

IMG_1529Next up was the Pâté, Pigs, and Pickle, which combined the same pâté with salami, their house pickled veggies, and herb cream cheese spread. Once again, great texture. This plate contains a lot of food, so we ended up bringing some pickles home.

IMG_1532For our main courses, we stayed simple: I got the French Dip and Adam got the Cuban. Both were a step away from the ordinary: the French Dip sauce was a rich, delicious concoction of soy, worcestershire, butter, garlic, and cayenne. It’s also their best-selling sandwich, and it’s clear that the secret is in the sauce. Adam went so far as to name it the best au jus he’d had.

The Cuban was a pretty cool take on the traditional sandwich, which paired pork and chicken instead of different types of pork. The sides that came with the sandwiches were extremely varied: the loaded bacon potato salad was creamy and rich and the pasta salad was indulgent. But the broccoli and cauliflower salad stole the show: the roasted corn offset the texture of the broccoli, and the tiny bit of soy sauce in the dressing made it slightly salty.

Full disclosure: the bar manager, Brock, is a high school friend of my husband’s, and invited us to dine a couple weeks ago. I would’ve posted sooner, but we’ve had a lot of family stuff to attend to recently.

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I get by with a little help from my friends

Who dressed up as her boss for Halloween? This kid.

Who dressed up as her boss for Halloween? This kid.

Last year, one of my favorite posts for Blog Like Crazy was about the power of female friendship. Though the majority of 2013 has been better than 2012, it’s been friends of both genders who have made sure I stayed as sane as possible. They have shown me what love can add to even the fullest life and have embraced me and all my flaws.

The people I call friends have been amazingly supportive during my transition out of 9-to-5s that I hated. They were encouraging and loving, but if I was miserable and wouldn’t admit it, they were more than willing to give me the kick in the ass that I desperately needed. It’s been this strength and high set of standards that’s lead me to demand more for myself and my life.

Bartending is a largely male-dominated field, and here in the South that can mean that women in the industry are held to a different standard. It’s not easy, but it’s satisfying and surprisingly intellectual work that adds layers and layers of complexity to what would appear to be a straightforward basic skill set. At Octane, I was the first woman to successfully complete the barbacking process at Octane, and am one of only a handful of female craft bartenders in the city.

My female friends especially have been my biggest cheerleaders in starting to bartend, so it’s been amazingly refreshing to be able to pass along that support. Jack Wyrick, one of my incredibly talented photog/blogging/creative/handy friends (if you don’t know her work, check out this and this), started at Octane this past Saturday. Seeing her focused on learning and joking around with people made me proud and excited for the future of the food industry and, more importantly, my friends here in Birmingham.

Y’all, it’s important to earn money, but it’s just as important to make a life instead of a living. My friends have pushed me even when it wasn’t comfortable financially or psychologically to work towards what would make me happy, not what would provide benefits or a set 401K. Their support in hard times has gotten me through any and all obstacles in my way. They enrich my life with their stories and their advice, and I can’t really and truly can’t thank them enough.

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Filed under BlogLikeCrazy, See Clair Mix, See Clair Write

My Manifesto, OR How I accidentally stopped drinking coffee

Coffee. Delicious, delicious coffee. Yep, I miss it.

Two weeks ago, right before I stared this blog, I accidentally gave up on drinking coffee. The brewing system at work is A. a drip maker B. cheap and C. lacking cream. It’s also $9 per month to drink. Yes, I’m aware that the cost is equivalent to that of three cups of coffee at the local shops I frequent. Yes, I’m an insufferable coffee snob who would rather forgo her morning coffee fix than drink poor quality coffee. And yes, I should probably wake up 10 minutes earlier to make my own damn coffee and stop complaining.

Honestly, I would rather forgo doing a lot of things than do them poorly. I have a case of what I call creativity stifling perfectionism. It’s not a technical diagnosis, but every time I begin a project, it sneaks up on me. If the hook isn’t right, I’ll rewrite it until it’s passable (my personal record is 23 discarded drafts).

When it comes to the case of writing and social media use (or tweeting about writing or writing about social media), I’m the same type of stickler, and my autocorrect doesn’t always watch my back. Wording may be what forms the meat of the post, but it’s the intention behind the crafting that makes the whole creation meaningful.

What follows is my manifesto:
This blog is a record of the people and opportunities I encounter through social media, and as such, a testament to its connective power. It is an ongoing love note to the city of Birmingham and its citizens. It is an attempt to teach effective personal social media usage as I learn it.

My caffeine headache may have abated, but my desire to work more towards focusing this blog on social media has not. I haven’t blogged without the structure of Blog Like Crazy, but as the blog starts to take shape and gain direction, my manifesto will be there as a reminder to stop, think and share the meaningful connections social media has facilitated in my life.

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Close to home, close to the heart

I left my local readings out of my nerdy links post because they tend towards a much different side of the things I like. There are so many that I try to follow that it would take close to a week to list them all. Here are the some that I’ve been thinking about recently or are from people I’ve connected with through social media. I’ve divided them into categories:

1. Better with Coffee
These blogs pair well with coffee–they are the introspective musings of people I know and people I think I would like to know.

Ink-stained Life
Gold Shoe Blog
Food Revival

2. Moving and shaking
Straight up shots of energy, inspiration or humor.

YouGotRossed
Writeous Babe
See Jane Write
Worst Weblog In The World
Vodka Cranberry Clooney

3. Misc good stuff
Music. Beer. Science. Food. Love.

Birmingham Box Set (Full disclosure: I write for this blog for fun)
Primavera
Urban Standard

4. City Love
Life in Birmingham.

WBHM
Magic City Made
Mary Katherine Morris (photog)
Kate Tully (photog)
Rob Culpepper (photog)
Cary Norton (photog)

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On becoming socially active

xkcd.com/1045

Shortly before I began interning at Birmingham magazine, I made my Twitter account public. Much to my parents’ chagrin, I began meeting up with some of the people I met through social media. In the months that followed, the city and its opportunities opened up. I learned how to ask for opportunities, and haltingly began using social media as a connector. The targeted fearlessness that I learned has resulted in freelancing gigs and some really incredible interviews with artists, musicians and chefs I admire.

As a member of Gen Y, the Internet is comfortable and easy to navigate. I can point you towards grammar jokes or find you the latest in Fitzgerald scholarship. My Google fu is strong. I have a penchant for nerdy web comics, and love sharing funny things with friends.

It comes as no surprise, then that social media (especially Twitter) has fundamentally shaped my interactions with others. Despite warnings against the superficiality of social media, its use has resulted in friendships and enduring inside jokes. Most recently, I had coffee and beer “meetings” with people I connected with through Twitter thanks to WBHM’s Issues and Ales. Those two stories will get their own post later—Javacia and Alex are both people you should know.

Social media can be an amazingly effective way to connect with people. Few other forms of media are as efficient at conveying so much information, and if used safely and correctly, can result in such stimulating and satisfying conversations.

This blog will be my documentation of my adventures in social media, both personally and professionally. My hope is that it might even convince others to try connecting with new people through social media. After all, you’ll never know who you’d meet unless you try it.

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