travel light, try not to pick a fight

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My Facebook Status: Aside from a limited point of view and attitude problem, what should I bring with me from Boca Raton, FL when I visit Austin, TX this week?

I’m heading to Austin, TX on Monday. I’ll put it right out there. I’m homesick for my Texan friends, the queso, and the Neiman Marcus Last Call. And the meat. There’s nothing like Lockhart, TX BBQ. Nothing. Puts the Salt Lick to shame. As for this Last Call business, I’ll put it to you this way. You try shopping for short ribs “plate” flanken during Passover in Boca Raton (or New York), and you’ve got to sell your goods to the butcher (or at least shake ’em). You’ve got to wheel and deal, hand over fist, insert whatever you need to, to get out of that store with raw meat wrapped in white butcher paper. Everyone wants it.

You try to get short ribs cut across the bone in Texas? Have at it, ma’am. No one wants it, knows from it, cares. Have your pick.

Hello Neiman Marcus Last Call in Austin. Nothing has been picked over. There are no scraps. You are left only with prime deals at the best prices. In Boca? You will elbow an old woman in the breast if she stands between you and that one and only pair of Vera Wang Lavender Label flats with the chunky sparkled toe, marked at twice the price you’ll find in Austin. So, yes, I will be defiling the store first thing Tuesday morning. The rest of the week, I will be eating, seeing movies, sitting on my friends’ laps and loving up on every last one of them.

I really didn’t know how much I adored Austin until I moved to Boca. Best comparison I know how to make? You sit at a bar in Austin, at the country club, let’s say, and the women (45+) will adopt you. Seriously, they will. Sit at a bar in Boca, at the country club, let’s say, and the women (32+) will ignore you. Except if you smile first. Then, they won’t know what the fcuk to do. Because who just smiles at a stranger?

Do not misread me. I have made some truly wonderful friends here in South Florida. Very real, funny women, who’ve been welcoming and uncharacteristically warm. But, they are not the norm. I have plenty more to say on the matter, but it’s too much venom to slip into a single blog.

So, I leave you with this. If you were heading to Austin, what would you want to do with your week? Hell, if you were heading anywhere? I’m making (and sharing) my to-do list later. And, no, it’s not lost on me that there’s life outside of Neiman Marcus and country clubs. It’s not a life worth living, but it’s a life.



  1. PUNCH! at Cap City Comedy Club on Tuesday nights is actually really entertaining. I’ve never been much for comedy, but they have like 5 comics who are on stage for about 10 minutes a piece, so even if you don’t like one of them you can zone out for a few minutes until the next one comes out.

    Have you already been ice-skating on top of Whole Foods?

    But really, even if your list consists of Last Call and country clubs, enjoy your visit! You can’t go wrong with sitting at a bar and making friends with the people sitting next to you. I didn’t realize that was unique. No wonder people look at me weird when I start to chat them up when I’m sitting at a bar in other cities. :)

  2. You couldn’t pay me to live in Boca. My entire extended family lives there and let’s just say I can identify with everything you say about it. But, I’m surprised that you’re not used to it as it reminds of many places on Long Island. I’m way too Dirty Jerz for that area. My NY transplanted family seems completely at home there.

    Now, Austin, I’ve always wanted to visit. Especially from your descriptions of it, I know I’d fit in fine there. Not a big fan of Last Call here but maybe it’s just picked over. I’m more of a Loehmanns kind of girl. Even Century 21 or Saks Off Fifth in a pinch. Now that they are all in one mall here (I love where I live), I never even have to drive from one to the other and it’s great.

    Have a great time in Austin and enjoy your food & friends!

    1. Author

      Long Island. I grew up there, and my father lives there now. Here’s what I can say. There are so many wonderful parts of Long Island, beautiful parts. The leaves changing, Jericho Cider Mill, Youngs Farm. And a 25 minute express train brings you straight to Penn Station, so it’s an easy way to have a suburban life with one foot still in the city. I’d say a lot of Long Island is like Livingston, NJ, Short Hills Mall, Tenafly, and Englewood (though not as religious). But I love Manhasset and Port Washington. I’m not a fan of Great Neck or Roslyn (though I do love the old town of Roslyn, the duck pond and Diane’s Bakery). But then, Long Island is home to me… and nothing gets me there faster than turning on some Billy Joel.

      I never realized how much agriculture and the land play a part in my happiness, either. I’m not a particularly outdoorsy girl, but I just don’t feel at home in Florida, where everything is FLAT FLAT FLAT. Flat houses, flat land. It doesn’t feel majestic. But it does offer the ocean. But, so does Long Island. This town just isn’t for me.

      1. You’re way too down to earth for Boca. I think that’s a huge part of it.

        I don’t mean to disparage Long Island, but when I think of it, I think of the old-type Jappy “Garmentos” like my father’s friends/associates. People like the over-the-top super-tan father buying his 21 yr old daughter 13k in clothes from D&G and throwing her a 40k party, from some show like “Daddy’s Spoiled Little Girl” or something like that. Like from one of the Five Towns ??(excuse my limited knowledge of the lingo). I picture those types migrating straight from Old Westbury to Boca on a direct line.

        We have that in Jersey but not quite in the same way.

        But, Florida- there are times I’ve pulled into the wrong house because they all look the same. Like you said- Flat. No “charm” like in old Northeastern towns with tudors, center hall colonials, Victorians, etc that are like 100 yrs old.

      2. Hey there! Stephanie, it has been forever since I have posted in Comments…pretty sure you won’t remember me, but I am the older woman from Port Washington (yikes…now mid-fifties…better than the alternatives and just poppin’ my first grays…) who first emailed after your wonderful “Straight Up and Dirty” and had the pleasure of meeting you, live!, at your “Moose” book-signing in 2008. It was an event with tons of Barnard women…and the Beans were so little (and gorgeous, Mom!)
        and Phil was so warm and gracious when I introduced myself. Anyway, this is getting way too long; and I “off topic”…just want to send my love and hugs to you. You look beautiful and happy; great to see that. I am currently in Florida myself, vising my sis in The Villages. …Just have a great time in Austin–hang with friends, drink and eat to excess, and enjoy Shop Til’ You drop! Safe travels, and wishing you all good things in 2012. Much love and a hug, Kathi

        1. Author

          Thanks Kathi… on all counts! The compliments, showing up at my reading, calling Phil gracious :)
          And thanks for the advice. Makes me somehow feel fine about indulgence. You live once and all that. Happy New Year to you, too, girlie.

  3. “And, no, it’s not lost on me that there’s life outside of Neiman Marcus and country clubs. It’s not a life worth living, but it’s a life.”

    SK, I love you for putting it out there like this!

  4. Also, I lived in Orange County for a couple years and could really see you in Newport or Laguna Beach. Not much “flat” there– plenty of hills, with beautiful beaches, a family friendly environment, and great shopping. Perhaps its too much sun for you, though. Not many grey, hot chocolate worthy rainy days.

    I’m also trying to figure out where the hell I belong after 5 years living in various neighborhoods all over Los Angeles, Orange County, and now in cold, grey Chicago.

  5. I’d want to dine at some at food trailers, dance at the Spoke, have dinner at Uchiko, kayak on town lake (or Ladybird lake, whichever name you use)and see Esther’s Follies. Maybe buy some books at Book people, have coffee with girlfriends, and walk South Congress.

    1. My thoughts were along these lines…but they also included Happy Hour with groups of friends at your favorite places to have Mexican Martinis and Chips and Queso!

      It’d also include breakfast tacos, taking in Auditorium Shores or Barton Springs….shopping, live music, Book People, Central Market, and of course steak, because beef just isn’t the same outside of Texas.

      Can you tell I miss Austin a little bit and am excited to return next week?!

      Hope you have a fabulous time Stephanie!

  6. I thought of you when I saw the holiday decorations going up on the evergreen trees on 360.

    If you have the time and the inclination, the outlets in San Marcos are bursting at the seams right now – and more have been added since you left. Tory Burch, etc. The Pottery Barn/Williams-Sonoma/West Elm mega outlet is packed with deals at the moment and worth the trip just for that destination.

    I definitely think you should hit some food trailers and have some greasy Tex Mex…Matt’s El Rancho? Uncommon Objects. Book People. Zilker Zephyr for the beans. Safe travels! Austin misses you!

  7. I spent two days in Boca several years ago. My husband’s new promotion allowed for him to either work out of Boca or Tampa. I’d been to Tampa, liked it ok, so decided that I’d check Boca out. What a culture shock for this Atlanta-born, Texas-bred WASP. Spent a morning at a Steinmart watching two old ladies fight over a sweater, and another plastic-faced wench haggle over two dollars.

    We chose Tampa, which still sucked in it’s own special way, but it beat the hell out of Boca. I feel for you, sweetheart. Enjoy your trip to Austin. And one day, take a trip up 95 to St. Augustine and Fernandina Beach – you’ll like it there.

  8. Oh! Coming back to Austin!

    I know how precious time is when you have a small window to visit with friends and loved ones, but if you’d like to make a new Austin friend and meet for a drink or a taco, I’d love that! I always wished I had suggested that while you lived here. But I realize how impractical my suggestion is. :) Have a wonderful time and safe travels.

  9. Breakfast is migas with queso at Kirby Lane, followed by a massage at Viva Day Spa, peruse the bedding at Wildflower, and a couple of French 75’s at Enoteca. Have fun! The weather was total shit today.

  10. When you first blogged about moving to Boca, I was hoping for the best. I thought maybe you — of all people — could find something amazing to say and write about South Florida. There is so much negative stuff out there already. Yes, I know, everyone hates it. *sigh*

  11. Lockhart would be a MUST. Smitty’s Market is one of my favorite places in the world. I love the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, food trucks (Gourdough’s a fave), shopping around South Congress shops, music at the Continental, and biking around Lady Bird Lake. Hope you have a great trip!

  12. Completely agree with you on Lockhart. Love Smitty’s!!!! We lived in Dallas until this July and any trip to Austin always involved a 45 min detour each way for BBQ.

  13. Several decades later, long after losing her extra pounds, Stephanie is still determined to become popular. Before, the setting was a school, now it’s a country club.

    Does your imaginary problem really have something to do with Jews (from Boca, Roslyn, Livingston, etc)? I don’t think so.

    Are we readers supposed to feel sorry for Stephanie Klein because she isn’t a successful socialite in a successful marriage of convenience?

    I saw you denigrate ‘nerds’ and ‘misfits’, now Jews, so absolutely no sympathy here.

    1. Author

      What were you on when you wrote this comment? I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you were drugged. This makes no sense.

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