StudiOne Story: Choosing Tulsa

Hi there!  This post is the third story from an undetermined number of pieces to make up the book that is “running my own little kingdom of StudiOne”.  A friend and reader asked me to talk about what it’s like to run our Studio and I decided to take several posts to show the evolution of this dream come true.  It’s been an interesting road to get here and I wanted to be able to portray that

even if you’re not doing in the immediate moment what you believe is your passion and your end game, you can still be well on your road to getting there.

If you missed either of the first two stories you can read about the race that changed my life, and the gym that made me a personal trainer.  Now I’m going to talk about how I went from being so heartset on returning to Memphis and ended up in Tulsa.

When I left the story last, I had just pulled away from Memphis for a summer at home taking summer school classes that were pre-requisites to my graduate studies at the University of Texas.  Yep, 24 years old and living with my (gracious) parents.  It was a mostly uneventful summer as I prepared for a move to Texas.  I can’t remember what sparked this thought but as I was mapping out my route from Indy to Austin I thought, I should swing through Oklahoma and say hi to my friend Katie.  (I really didn’t want to go to Austin and honestly think I was just postponing my arrival there).

 

Katie and I grew up as best friends and basically sisters in our small town WASPish childhood home.  We played basketball together, dated the same boys and I think she spent the night at my house more than her own.  We went our separate ways for college, she to Wheaton in Chicago and me to Rhodes in Memphis.  For a taste of how different our experiences were : when she called me to tell me she was engaged, I was buying tequila for the jello shots at my 21st birthday party.  I went to her wedding in January of 2010 to watch my beautiful friend marry this jockey football player I’d met only once and just remember thinking why would they quit college early?

Flash forward to 2012.  I planned a quick two night stay in Tulsa on my way southwest.  Katie and Justin were living with his folks while they did the buildout for their cafe.  We went to Fat Guys and Andolini’s, Old School Bagel and Brookside.  I got a tour of the under construction Foolish Things which was just the greatest and most inspiring thing that could probably have happened on this trip.  We had a great time catching up and I promised I would come back to see the finished cafe before I graduated.

I don’t write much about Austin because it just wasn’t a place I connected with.  This surprised me as much as it surprised anyone.  A warm, active city with beautiful parks, live music and plenty of options for running trails?  Sounds like my heaven.  I might have needed a massive attitude adjustment my first semester (I was on academic probation for bad grades and didn’t even know it until they told me I was removed from the list…..).  I think it was a combination of feeling like I left something great in Memphis, being massively disappointed in this “high ranking graduate program” I had chosen and generally annoyed at the ever present traffic.  I survived, I made some great friends, some poor decisions and adopted a sweet little puppy.  Now that I’m on the other side of the period of life that is 24-26 I would like to say to those approaching it, watch out!  There will be times of massive self-doubt, depression, confusion and carelessness.  Obviously this will not be the case for everyone but I certainly (and I have friends who agree) would have appreciated a little warning that this hurricane of a two years was even a possibility.

I made good on my promise and returned to Tulsa, Katie and Justin in November of 2015 to run the Route 66 Half Marathon.  I drove up on a Saturday, stayed that night, ran Sunday and left Monday morning.  They had moved into their own house and opened the cafe, all while I was floundering about in my Austin hurricane.  I don’t know if it was the nice toll booth lady who paid for my toll when I had absolutely no change coming into OK, or the majestic deco-inspired Tulsa skyline but as I drove into downtown Tulsa that night, coming north on 75 across the river, I just thought, I could move here.  As soon as I uttered those words to my hosts it was over.  If the coffee and floral business don’t work out for these two, they can be professional Tulsa recruiters.

We didn’t have much time that weekend to keep exploring Tulsa but I’m pretty sure we went back to Andolini’s and went over all the great things about Tulsa over and over on their couch.  Katie had started her own business since I was gone and the cafe was so cool to see finally open.  Another inspiring moment and I just thought, I want to be where people are living out their dreams.  And I drove off, making no promises this time but also kind of knowing what was going to happen.

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Majestic skyline

I had devised a plan that in March or April of my second year, I would visit Memphis and visit Tulsa while maybe still considering the possibility of staying in Austin, to really pick where I wanted to go next.  But first, I had a trip to New Orleans with Sharon (my friend and fellow blogger who inspired this series), and Erin my then-roommate.  We were running a race but the part of New Orleans that is relevant to this story is: I decided to have my fortune read in Jackson Square.  The lady I picked was a card reader and after talking for a while she said she would place three cards in front of me and then interpret their meaning to my life.  She laid three cards face down on her table.  In my head I assigned a city to each card: Austin, Tulsa and Memphis.  Here is how she talked about the cards and the cities they matched in my head.  Austin:  this card is chaos.  It represents an unsettled and difficult time.  Tulsa: this card is all rainbows and unicorns and new beginnings.  Memphis:  this card represents being inside out and upside down.  It’s really good and it’s really bad.  You’ll have a good ride but you better hang on.

Spot on.  But also kind of tossed aside, because come on.

I returned to Tulsa mid-spring of my graduating year.  It followed a trip to Memphis and my intention was to really think about each place and what my life would look like with each as a backdrop.  In my mind I really just had two choices: Memphis (familiar and home sweet home), Tulsa (fun and full of new opportunities).  The details of each trip are a little hazy but I remember sitting at Foolish Things with Justin and Katie, helping to host an event (sitting where I am this second actually) and I just decided.  It was a peaceful and exhilarating feeling.  I still had a few months until I would make my move but I just knew this would be it.  I told Katie and Justin that night and the next day Katie took me out to look at houses.  We looked at one over by TU, and two in Owen Park.  The third one we looked at in Owen Park is now my home!

I called my parents to tell them I was thinking about moving to Tulsa and that it was probably a good time to buy a house.  They agreed.  But I think also thought I jumped the gun a little bit on picking a house.  My mom joined me on yet another trip to T-town to see the house, and I think try to (unsuccessfully) talk me out of it.  But I know me.  And I know that when I find something I like, I’m not going to keep looking for something that could maybe be better.  I’m sure it doesn’t make sense to a lot of people from the outside that the third house I ever considered buying was the one but it doesn’t surprise me at all 😉

And that is how I got to Tulsa.  A deeply rooted friendship, the lure of a fun and growing city and a chance to try something I’ve never tried before.  I still love and will always miss Memphis, my first home away from home but I also knew what life looked like there.  I was ready for a new adventure and creating a life on my terms.  Stay tuned for the next installment which will be the story of the two years spent in Tulsa working while I dreamt of the studio.

 

Tulsa Love, Retro Den Homestyling (update!)

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After

Last time I wrote about my Retro Den Ashelys, they had left me with some serious homework.

  1. Paint the Fireplace
  2. Order a couch
  3. Buy some greenery

I decided to tackle the fireplace first.  It seemed a relatively simple task, one that I could handle on my own and reap immediate benefits in terms of feeling like the room was continuing its transformation.  The girls were very helpful over text, informing me what kind of paint to buy, and giving a little direction on the color.  Semi-gloss, soft white but not white white.  

I browsed the whites a bit at Home Depot.  Who knew there were so many shades of white?  I’m not one to get too hung up on decisions like this.  If I bought the wrong white, I figured I would just get more and repaint it.  Once I was satisfied that my Eggshell white was the right shade, I had the ladies behind the counter mix up a small can of it.  I also bought one of the painter’s kits that comes with rollers, brushes and a paint tray.  All set.

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This stop had been the last of a few errands I ran that evening.  I had been to the grocery store and one other place I can’t remember right now – all that to say, I had more than one bag I was carrying inside.  Both because of my several stops, and also because I’m a one-trip-in-from-the-car kind of gal.

I also had an extra dog staying with me because Chap was out of town.  These two things combined into one very messy start of this project.  I was walking into the house, 42 bags in each hand, determined to make it to the kitchen table with them all.  I’m certain I could have, if not for the two rowdy, hungry and easily excitable dogs running around my feet.  I set my left hand’s load down on the kitchen table, and the right on a kitchen chair.  I managed to do it in just the right place that as soon as I let go, the bag with the can of paint in it fell to the floor.  The lid came off.  White (but not white white) paint started slowly spreading across the hardwood floor.

Shit.

Clean it up before it dries.

Grab towels.

Then mop.

Corral the dogs.

That was my basic train of thought as the white pool slowly expanded away from the chair.  I decided before mopping, I should wipe up some of the bulk of the mess.  Then I realized I needed to put the lid back on it.  Decided I would do that with a towel in hand.  So, I ran to the bathroom and grabbed a white towel, ran back to the spill and scooped up the can and lid, still mostly in the bag.  I dropped the bag and can in the kitchen sink (not the best decision of this series), and went back to mop up more of the bulk of the mess.  Once the thick of it was on the towels, I threw them into the washer (again, not totally great thought process but I was so fixated on mopping).  I managed to scare the dogs enough with my frantic screaming and running around that they hovered together in the mud room.

It took me two mop buckets of water to really get all the film up.  But I was pretty satisfied with my efforts and results.  Major catastrophe avoided.  Until I realized I still had a kitchen sink and washer to deal with.  The soaking wet towels in the washer was the worst of the sequence.  I took a big trash bag and just scooped them up and tossed into the trash.  It was not worth it to me to try to salvage those.   The kitchen sink was fairly easy to clean.

The two biggest tragedies of this fiasco are that no one was able to witness this mess or take pictures of the frantic cleanup.  The second is that I now have white paint on my beautiful black Lululemon running jacket.

The best thing to come of this?  I had exactly enough paint, down to almost the last drop, left in that little can to cover the fireplace.  The Ashelys got to partake in my fiasco via text, and were very helpful in directing where the white paint should go.  Not inside the fireplace, and not on the floor bricks.  Just the wall bricks.  It’s beautiful, and was so satisfying a task to complete on my own, with a little texting help from my friends.

Stay tuned for more house updates, homework completions and furniture!