A Weekend in Austin!

The drive from New Mexico to Texas wasn’t nearly as entertaining as the previous day’s, but it did allow me to stop by my old stomping grounds of Torchy’s Tacos in Lubbock to help break up the drive. I had a Trailer Park taco, which is fried chicken with lettuce, tomato, and shredded cheese, and you can bet I ordered it trashy, which means add queso, yes, please and thank you. Oh yeah, I also stopped at Chick Fil A because I couldn’t decide, and that was the way I was living my road trip life.

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Anyway, it was five boring hours to Lubbock and five boring hours after that, but I finally landed in my previous home: Austin, TX! We popped open some drinks right away and went out to Rain dance club, which was shockingly one of the first bars I ever visited in Austin during my first trip there back in 2011! Life hath come full circle.

Obviously, there were many more tacos to eat. As much as I love that trashy trailer park taco, I do think Torchy’s is a little overrated (*gasp*), and I prefer Tacodeli (my number one fave) and Tacos Veracruz (they now have a brick and mortar up north, hallelujah!) Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.

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I took a class at BFree Yoga with my teacher Shelby because she’s the best. Then we spent a magical day at the pool and donned wigs in the night. It was a perfect weekend full of friends and fun!

Hyde Park Bar and Grill

Weddings in Austin

If anyone wants to get married to me, please just send me an Instagram DM and make sure you’re ok with getting married in Austin! I know it’s become THE place for bachelor and bachelorette parties, but after attending my friends’ lovely wedding this weekend, I’m thinking it could be one of the best places to do the actual thing.

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Austin is sweetly located a few quick steps away from beautiful Hill Country. It’s a fine place to dance and eat catered BBQ, but they also have tacos if you’re not so into smoked meats. There are lots of trees surrounding precious barns for celebrating, and a short ride into the city will get you to the afterparty scene. What better way to celebrate love?

I felt incredibly lucky to be a part of the couple’s special day. We had a blast two-stepping into the night.

On Leaving

I have some explaining to do! My stuff and I have left Austin for the foreseeable future. It was a fast moving move, but one that I'd been anticipating before I landed back in the U.S. I have dreamed of living in California for a long time, and now here I am in California living. I have a job which I will tell you about soon because it deserves a post of its own. I moved into a house that is a testament to putting full faith in Craigslist findings. I had only seen it and met the roommates via FaceTime before driving out here, but so far everything seems to be surpassing my expectations. The two roommates are kind and inspiring, they have a cat and a dog, and there is a lemon tree outside my window. I am here. 

When I told friends and strangers I was moving to Los Angeles, almost everyone had an opinion. Some gave words of warning and others offered encouragement. There would be traffic and crowds and money needed to buy things. But there would be art and talent and vibrancy as well. I was (am) looking for change and growth. Austin had become so familiar to me that I started to take it for granted. The longer I stayed, the more time and money I spent going on adventures elsewhere. I was running out of activities and places to tick off the checklist and, while I'm trying to cut back on my constant seeking of novelty, I felt the need for something bigger and new.

I didn't want to have a going away party from Austin, since it seems like I'm always going away from someplace or another. And I'm one of the ones who comes back to visit as much as I can. Plus there's always the frightful chance of everything completely falling apart and the possibility having to return a few months later. "You can't Irish exit a city," my roommate told me, and I'm glad I listened. Having all my friends together in one place with too many beers made my heart happy.

Thank you for being such a big part of me for the past 5 years. <3

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Why You Should Always Ask For What You Want

It's strange to be back in Austin on what seems like a "temporary visa". When my plane touched down beside that misplaced field of longhorn cattle grazing next to long-term parking lots, I didn't know what to feel. The weather was cloudy and rainy. Not exactly the warm, bright welcome I'd come to expect from the pretty city that has been my home for the past five years. "How does it feel to be back?" asked my friends and family members during run-ins and phone calls. It felt good, and it felt weird.

After a long backpacking trip, I've found that it's always a relief to be able to stay in one place where all your stuff is, and where you don't have to unpack all your belongings just to find your toothbrush or clean socks. It felt weird because I wasn't coming back to many commitments. I had tickets to a concert that night, a longtime fulfillment around which I'd arranged my return trip. But what would I do when the week started, with no work to go to or classes to attend?

Bon Iver Austin

I had some job applications, interviews, and decisions to make that were keeping me in the limbo phase. I knew I wanted to get back to teaching yoga as soon as possible, but it's hard to ask for a permanent class at a studio or apply to new jobs when you're not sure if you might be gone in a few weeks. My personal practice was struggling, too. In Austin, studio teaching jobs and work trades had spoiled me into getting my yoga on a budget. I wanted to ask for my work trade job back at my favorite studio, but I was nervous. It's a pretty good deal-- manning the desk in between classes for your monthly membership. I didn't want to ask for freebies from yoga teachers, since I am one and I know how hard they work.

I was very close to clicking the link to sign up for a $39 for 30 days pass at one of the fancy downtown studios when I remembered the trick to ask for what you want. Wouldn't my studio rather have me work for them than spend my money somewhere else? I emailed the studio manager and asked if she might need any help over the next two weeks while I was sure to be in town. She replied that it was the perfect time to ask, because there were a few days she needed coverage before the end of the month. I returned to the studio for class and training the next day, and the day after, and the day after that. Ask and you shall receive.

Austin Greenbelt

Hanging On

I'm back in Austin, and desperately clinging on where I can to the memories of days that were too hot for sleeves and the only decisions were which attractions to walk to and what flavor of smoothie to order! Not that we are really suffering much on those fronts here in Central Texas, but we surely are driving a lot, talking about jobs, and, maybe for a month or so, wearing sleeves.

It's so easy to fall into the same old routine once we're back on our home turf. And it's usually the little changes that help us slow down and step out of that big familiar picture. I kept the mild weather, maximum relaxation lifestyle alive by making chia pudding that reminded me of Bali and Nicaragua, and green curry that reminded me of Thailand. It could happen with food, music, or souvenir reminders hanging around to bring us back to the sweet memories of those wonderful places, but all it takes is a little effort to make sure the feelings aren't all lost once we step off the plane.

chia pudding

Amigos de Austin

I traveled to a whole different part of the world and where do you think the first estadounidense I met was from? No place other than Austin, Texas! Yee-haw!

Sara is super nice and welcoming. She moved down here to start a bakery and a pizzeria. What a fine place to do just that. Pan de Vida is a relaxed respite off busy La Calazada street with great pizza, plenty of hammocks, and cinnamon rolls that I am not going to say whether or not could come close to my grandma's because sometimes she reads this! You'll have to try them for yourself.

Pan de Vida Granada, Nicaragua

I'm glad to have met Sara early in the trip, because she told me an easy way to remember the money exchange rate when I kept forgetting which ones were from Asia and which one was for here. The next day that knowledge saved me when the street converter tried to rip me off 200 cordoba. But all I had to do was correct him and he gave me the difference plus a little more. Sometimes it really pays to talk to strangers.

Pan de Vida in Granada, Nicaragua

Pace Yourself

It's starting to stay darker and cooler a little longer in the mornings, but that Texas-like ability to creep into the 90's by mid-day is still going strong enough to make you think twice about lighting cinnamon candles or ordering your various seasonal lattes. We'll be happily basking in the heat of summer until at least October around here.

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In August, I was able to spend a lovely day here, and I kicked myself for letting over 4 years pass in Austin before finding the time to visit. Pace Bend Park has miles and miles of trails, exhilarating cliffs for jumping off into the water, countless campsites for overnight adventurers, and some swell trees for swinging your hammock. The shallow part of Lake Travis was feeling pretty bath-like that day, but it was all just fine.

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If you're an Austin person looking for some sweaty hikes or your last swims of summer, or even a shoreline campground, I think it would really be worth your while. 

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Gone Outside

One day in July I sat here and meditated with the Oprah & Deepak 21-day meditation app and it was very nice, very hot, and very spiritual millennial of me. I am hearing a lot of people talk about summer coming to an end, and I hope that they will stop because there is a lot more ahead of us! 

Are you taking time to find some peaceful outside places near you?

Sweet Summer

If any past/present/future employers are reading this, please know that I am very dependable and dedicated, and this post is most definitely not about me. However, for some people who are surely not me, certain times of year require the skipping of work in exchange for the seeking out of fresh fruits.

If you're finding yourself in that seasonal position, and if peaches and blackberries are the objects of your sweet desires, here are some do's and don'ts to guide your quest:

  • Do carry out your search in Fredericksburg.
  • Do check the pick-your-own calendars before you go.
  • Don't stop at the jam/salsa stores along the way or you might take pity on lonely little old ladies with lots of free samples and end up buying more jam/salsa than you had originally planned.
  • Do stop in Dripping Springs for the very best pizza or pastries.
  • Don't run out of time for sunning and swimming on your way.

 

Pick wisely and enjoy!

Found in Ft. Worth

Nowadays, my family looks a lot different than the mom, dad, sister, and me stick figure drawings I used to sketch out back in grade school. As the years have gone by, it's expanded to include many new faces-- related and non-- who spread far and wide across the country and, occasionally, around the world. Regardless of how untraditional our clan looks today, it's pretty cool that a few weeks ago I was able to drive to North Texas for a mini-family reunion. Sometimes you end up where you never could have expected, and it seems to make the most sense of all.

Side note to Austinites who understandably think it would be silly to venture out of Austin to visit another Texan city: It seems like the Ft. Worth part of DFW might have some cool stuff, too! There were lots of breweries, music, and apartment complexes that look eerily similar to the ones here. Come for the professional sports teams, stay for the beer and tattoos.

Oh yeah, and happy 4th of July y'all!

The Good & the Green

Just when I think I have swum in all of the majestic swimming holes around here, I find myself stumbling upon another majestic swimming hole. 

People are coming to Austin for the brunch and the jobs, and they are staying for the good and the green things that are very nearby. McKinney Falls State Park is one of those good, green things, which also happens to not be very crowded on an overcast spring day. You had better get here before summer when all the water might go away, but for now I'm giving it all the thumbs up.

Waiting on WEST

This weekend, many of Austin's best galleries, museums, event spaces, and regular people's houses will open their doors to invite us all to come hang around and check out some really incredible art from art-makers all around the city. What's better than that? This will be my first year attending and volunteering at the West Austin Studio Tour, but I have been able to view and help at EAST for a few years now, and I imagine that its Spring counterpart will be equally magical. 

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Big Medium puts on some of the most wonderful art events in Austin, and these bi-annual studio tours have a particularly special way of making everyone feel like part of this giant community. You can pick out a catalog/guide from a nearby library, or plan out your route on the official website

Come hang out with me at Saturday's Community Breakfast! And if you wanted to help out by volunteering, I think you could join in here.

The Skylark Lounge

I visited a new place last week.

If you get tired of Dirty 6th Street or restored houses designed as bars that all feel the same, you could go here:

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Maybe you like music. They have it. Maybe you like pizza. They have it. Maybe you like large backyard patios where you can hang out with friends or smoke things from any of your different devices. They've got that, too.

Enjoy your weekend, Austin!

A New Year

While the end of this past year was a little unexpected and left me feeling scattered, it's hard to look past all the magic that 2016 had to offer.

I went here for the first time!

I went here for the first time!

I finally checked a lot of things off of the to-do list of life... including semi-leaving my job and joining AmeriCorps, an idea that had been dancing around in my head for a while. I visited 6 foreign countries and 8 brand-new-to-me national parks. I watched a small handful of my best friends get married and was able to be a part of some of their weddings. I became a certified yoga instructor and some of the loveliest people came to my house every week to share their energy and help nurture each other's spirits.

 

My family members all seem to be happy and healthy. I met a bunch of amazing people to keep me laughing and growing. The blessings were plenty and the bad times were few.

2017 has a lot to live up to.

Sounds on Sounds

Well, this is a little late, but I went to a music festival.

Beach House (hardly pictured) @ Sound on Sound

Beach House (hardly pictured) @ Sound on Sound

At first I was skeptical about the Renaissance Faire/music festival combination, because I like both of those things, but thought they might distract from one another when placed in the same spot. However, I quickly found that the Sherwood Forest fairgrounds are quite magical and really cater to an off-the-beaten-path (read: trippy) festival experience! There were trees and surprises everywhere, and the Texas weather was even starting to feel vaguely like fall. I got to be a VIP, hang out with my friend Jessica (an empowered, hot lady who sells port-o-potties and has found a sneaky way to infiltrate the festival circuit), and also re-live OutKast at ACL a la 2014. If there's anything more I should be asking for in a weekend, I do not know it yet.

Big Boi @ Sound on Sound

Big Boi @ Sound on Sound

ACL Time! How to: Music Festivals

Regrettably, I did not post this in time for Weekend One of ACL, but there's still plenty of time to prepare for Weekend Two, or any other Fall Festival that might have your palms wet with anticipation. Here are some tips from a 4th timer:

Austin City Limits Music Festival

1. Honesty is (almost never) the best policy

Last week, I courageously asked my supervisor to leave early for ACL on Friday and she said no, but told me that she could have said yes if I'd been sick, leaving for a trip, or if my family was visiting. From this I have learned to bend the truth to the exact opposite limits of possibility. Get the flu, invite an imaginary friend to town, let your grandma die for the third time this year. Do what you must to gain a brief glimpse of freedom!

2a. Remember you're a human

In spite of your animal ears or alien attire, you still have to drink water, eat food, and walk/ride/roll yourself out when all the things end. See 2b. for recommendations.

2b. Granola bars

What a world! There are tens, if not twenties, of types of these things available to us at every grocery store. If ACL, save all your food calories for Amy's Oreo Shakes and eat these as meals. Mix it up or you'll end up hating Clif bars for life, until they introduce the new nut butter filled flavors upon which you will rejoice. Variety is the spice of snacks. And don't waste your time with any cereal bars. 

3. Treat your feet

If you're over 25 and not cool or hip, consider taking the insoles out of your running shoes and putting them in your posing-ass cool hip flat-bedded shoes. I'm old and this is a real suggestion.

4. Be open

Talk to the people around you. Ask them if you can touch their Zuru air chair because, what? If your friends are all going to a different show, go see the ones you want to see on your own. But don't be too stuck to your pre-planned schedule. Leave time for grass laying, traipsing, and general BS-ing. It'll all be fine.

5. Cancel Monday

I'm writing this after working on a Monday after Weekend One and so, yeah.

ACL Fest Austin TX

Wake-up Call

In college, I knew a friend whose mom was about to take a new job in education after taking several years off from the working world. The week before her first day, she started setting her alarm earlier and earlier so that she could practice waking up on time. Back then, I thought she was being a little dramatic. I wondered, could it really be that hard to adjust to a pre-8 a.m. schedule?

After my first full week of 7:30 a.m. clock-ins, I don't wonder that anymore. Now that the school year is in full swing and we barely have time to get dressed, work, eat, exercise, and take care of all the adult business like laundry/groceries/keeping the roof tied down, just to do it all over again the next day, I find myself wanting to squeeze as much fun into the weekends as humanly possible.

Fortunately, this one contained enough music, friends, tostadas, and new stomps around familiar territories to keep my summer-jonesing heart fulfilled. 

Concrete Robot @ The Sahara Lounge

Concrete Robot @ The Sahara Lounge

B played one of our favorite venues for the first time. I helped our sweet Nicole warm her adorable new home. Our lady Lacey turned 30 in the midst of house shows, slip-and-sliding, and chicken sh*t bingo (if you didn't know, well, now you know). We even got to flex our cultural sides with the eye-opening Elliott Erwitt photo exhibit at the Harry Ransom Center.

The very smooth Wild Toast @ Trevor's house

The very smooth Wild Toast @ Trevor's house

Oh, and there were biscuits (unphotographed due to lack of time), pinatas (unphotographed due to lack of sobriety), and turtles (photograph below). 

Turtles at the University of Texas Austin

Turtles at the University of Texas Austin

I'm ending Sunday with a happy heart and an inspired soul. I hope you, too, had a weekend to make your long weekdays feel like no big thang at all.

First Days

Today was my first day at school and we spent it doing 8 hours of arts & crafts, so I think you could say that I'm on the right path.

Literacy First in Austin, Texas

But all fun, cheetah borders, and elephant-shaped die-cutters aside, changing jobs is like entering a weird, alternate universe type time warp where you can never feel too sure if you're doing the right thing. No matter how deep your roots have grown, it can be unbalancing to suddenly pick them up and repot yourself someplace else.

The night before my first day of training, I found myself unable to sleep. You might think that after 28 years of being me, I'd confidently have it all in the bag, yet, here I was, inexplicably nervous, wondering where to sit or what to wear. Should I bring my lunch and be a lonely lunch packer, or go out to meet other people? Was I making the right choice for my yet-to-be-determined career goals? Do I really want to wake up before 7am every day? And the pang of uncertainty that always haunts us: what happens next? 

You might also think that after 3.5 years of living in Texas, I'd know better than to wear jeans for two days a row in early September, but that's neither here nor there. So I wore the jeans, went out to eat on the first day, and sat in any empty seat I could find. Some of the other questions linger, but the arting and crafting helped ease my mind.