Thursday, April 17, 2008

Austin Adventures

I had such a great time in Austin. There was little sightseeing while there, but that was more than okay with me. LBR and I had a difficult time getting out of the house each day, as we found ourselves immersed in some incredible conversations. There was much insight, depth, and laughter that lead to hysterics. Here are some highlights of our adventures:

Jack Daniels, Cupcakes, and Queso. One truly can live off these "staples" for days on end.
I have always appreciated Jack and Cupcakes (not necessarily together) but I now also have a wicked love of "the queso," which I quickly deemed to simply be Velveeta cheese with jalepeno (and other?) peppers thrown in there and heated up. And boy did I feel all proud of myself upon such observation! :) Despite my new-found love of queso, I did have to turn my head when LBR was kind enough to stir the queso after it had been sitting for a few minutes, breaking that disturbing coagulated layer forming on the top.

Y'all and all y'all. Darlin and ma'am. The. I really do like hearing "y'all" and being called "darlin" and "ma'am" by Texans. There really is something so charming about it. The highlight of our dismal experience on Sixth Street was being called "darlin" by a bum playing a guitar. It was very touching. And LBR and I quickly took to overusing "the" before nouns. "The Tasty Freeze," "the queso," "the tex mex," "the Walmart," "the bar-b-q," "the blog." We even got into a serious analytical discussion over how people came to find "the" necessary when saying things like "the McDonald's." When distinguishing between "y'all" and "all y'all," it seems that "y'all" can be applied to one or more people and that "all y'all" seems appropriate for three or more people, particularly larger groups. Really, I loved it all, all y'all.

Austin is really green and really pleasant. I was genuinely surprised by how green Austin is and how many trees there are. It has a really great vibe as well. You know you are in Texas but it truly does feel like an Oasis there. Speaking of which, I loved The Oasis (pictured here). It is a restaurant/bar that is roughly seven stories high and overlooks Lake Travis. At the entrance are a myriad of statues, with no clear theme to the collection. It is a wacky hodgepodge of statues strewn about a pebbled pathway towards the restaurant entrance. As bizarre as it seems, I found myself really charmed by its seeming absurdity. The view of the lake was gorgeous and Austin has amazing sunsets:

Texan accents are really fun and easy to slide into, even with the "locals." It does help when they are really drunk. :) I think I have a few different Texan accents going on all at once, however! LBR and I would often find ourselves having serious conversations and then suddenly slide right into Texan accents, continuing the serious nature of the conversation. Disturbing? Likely.

Cowboy boots are bad ass and rather darlin. I was infatuated with these boots I tried on. I really am not a fan of animal print anything, but these were really well done in my opinion and the animal print added that little bit of sexy sass every respectable girl needs in a cowboy boot. When I saw that they were just about five bills, I had a sudden fear that I could not get the boots off. Yet, somehow, this fear turned into a strong desire not to take them off and I happily lingered, walking around in them and fantasizing about what fun things I would wear with them. LBR will concur that they were gorgeous boots. And just to reiterate, here's another glimpse of these little darlins. I hope to bring them home with me one day. Sniff, sniff.

I wish we had taken a photo of LBR in the green "Riverdance" boots she tried on... they were gorgeous as well. But we were soon distracted from the boot love when...

I got to play the idiot city girl for the boot salesman's entertainment. This involved baby rattlesnake eggs and some girly screamin and squealin on the part of LBR and I. Oh, did he have fun with us big city girls. And LBR had a premonition that "the snake" was upon us. After I had quickly found "my" boots, we rounded the corner of an aisle to find LBR some boots. When we did, I looked up in horror. The expression on my face must have been fierce, because LBR quickly darted, gasping in fear. She thought I had seen a snake. But really, what I saw rivaled a dangling snake. Before us was the most hideous pink leather jacket with studs and fringes. Moments later, in the same aisle, the salesman approached LBR with a little pouch claiming to have rattlesnake eggs in it. He asked her to open it. Sweet Lord... did LBR run for the hills. And so, I was faced with opening the dreaded pouch. I knew it was a gag and I knew that something would startle me. But despite knowing it was a gag, anxiety mounted within me and when I did open it (some kind of rubber band wound up with a paper clip or something, that made a buzzing sound when you opened the pouch), I threw that thing across the store. Yep, no doubt he is still having a good laugh over that.

Change of scenery and awakened taste. Any traveler knows what I speak of here. To be out of your element is such an awakening. We really do drift through our daily lives without fully experiencing all that is around us. The climate and landscape change is huge. And each time I visit a new place, I feel an emerging curiosity about what it might be like to have a life here. Travel stirs up a lot within me. It really challenges me to think about where I am and what I'm doing with my life.

Food is also such a poignant marker when traveling.
To have Bar-b-q and Tex Mex restaurants all over is so alien to me that I feel really awake to the overall experience through food. One night we went into a bar-b-q joint that looked like a gas station market on the outside. And with our brisket, we were given a half loaf of white bread. I don't know why that was so neat to me but it was. And I find myself more adventurous with food when traveling. At Manuel's, LBR and I happily accepted the waiter's recommendation of the gordita pictured here. It was very good and a very keen reminder that trying something new is an awakening.

Having a 2am breakfast with LBR at Magnolia Cafe was so great. I love this little diner and how this particular cafe on Lake Austin Boulevard sits back off the road, up a little incline parking lot with a great big oak tree. As we pulled up, there were a couple young guys strumming guitars in the parking lot. It didn't feel dead outside but rather, at that hour it seemed that there was a quiet but palpable energy that evoked an exciting tranquility. Although, as LBR stated in her post, we were likely the only two non-stoned people in the diner, it was so much fun to be out like that, enjoying the experience with a great friend. I never go out at 2am here at home to have breakfast with a friend. Although such a simple experience, it was so poignantly delightful.

University of Texas. Great college campus and ENORMOUS football stadium. I love college campuses and derive such pleasure in walking amongst old buildings, aware of the knowledge buzzing all around me. The college lifestyle so appeals to me and I'm not talking about those early 20s of ridiculous boozing and hooking up. UT has a beautiful college campus and the architecture is so rich. The University of Texas Tower is truly magnificent. A woman on my flight home told me that UT has some 50,000 students. That is incredible to me, coming from a school much smaller. It was such a great experience, walking through the quiet campus on a Saturday evening with LBR.

Austin certainly was an adventure and opened me up to many possibilities with regard to life. I tend to draw inward so often and this trip reminded me, as that last scene of Into the Wild does... happiness is real when shared.


La Belette Rouge said...

What a fantastic post! Really, it is so great to read about the amazing time we had together in Austin. It feels like it was much longer than a week ago when you and I had our PTSD experiences on 6th street. I miss you much and can't thank you enough for y'all coming to Austin, little lady.

You were much too kind in your description of events at the boot store. I was the one who acted the fool at "the" boots r us. I feel sure they are still watching the video they took of me jumping like a fool over imaginary snakes. What decorum and composure?

And, yes, those boots must be yours. I would go back and check on them for you yet I am a fearin' the snake man. You must come back soon.
The queso waits for you, sweet darlin'!
Love y'all,

Anonymous said...

What a lovely time! I hope you are doing OK.

b said...

LBR... It was a fantastic post because it was a fantastic trip. It does seem like such a long time ago already! Haha... yeah, the boot store was hilarious. Oh, we were both brimming with decorum and composure!! :)

Missin' y'all somethin fierce!!

b said...

Function of Time... It was a lovely time. I know you so would have enjoyed it with us! I am doing okay, thanks. Lots of things going on in my head right now and decisions to be made regarding that hero's journey. I think you feel that all too well yourself.

Cassoulet Cafe said...

What a great time (and post!)
I'm slowly catching up after my month of no internet.

Ronda said...

Wow, I'm impressed! You got the use of y'all and all y'all correct! As a native Texan, y'all is for two people, all y'all is three or more. Sometimes folks will use y'all for one person but that's not really the intention of the word. :) Good stuff! Oh yeah, my family does say "let's go to the walmart!" Too funny! I read LBR faithfully and have now added you too. Come back to Texas!

b said...

Cassoulet Cafe... It was a great time, thanks! I hope you had a great time in France as well. Wow.. a month without internet seems so long, doesn't it?! :)

Ronda... Thank you so much for stopping by my blog and thanks for affirming the use of y'all and all y'all. It is great to have a native Texan to substantiate such!! :) I had such a great time in Austin and look forward to returning. Hope to see you back here as well!

Anonymous said...

Oh my God, that sounds like great fun. Jack & Cupcakes, Breakfast at 2am, cowboy boots and two charming ladies. I'm jealous! Next time send me an e-mail, i don't mind being your shopping bag carrier for a week or two... as long as you feed me and save me some Jack of course! hehe ;-)

Randal Graves said...

Whiskey, overly sugared treats and Velveeta? What a Dante-esque concoction!

Sounds like your collective stomachs survived and that you had a great time. One realizes just how much of America is sleeping at 2am when one finds a pocket like Austin that's actually awake. ;-)

b said...

Zen Chef... When you put it all together like that, it sounds ridiculously fun, doesn't it?! And it was. Forget shopping bag carrier! If you cook even one meal for us, I'll feed you all the cupcakes and Jack your heart desires! :)

Randal... Haha. Dante-esque, eh?! I like it. You know I love the dark stuff and all those delicious paradoxes! Our collective stomachs did survive, amazingly!

There really is something magical about being out at 2am in a groovy diner like that, while most of the "world" (appreciating that it is daytime somewhere) sleeps around us. Especially when the weather is pleasantly warm like it was. It is one of those memories I'll really savor.

Dr.Bethenais- Languedoc's Lady Doc said...

ok, love those boots!!! oolala!

Run Around Paris said...

i have to admit, i always say "the walmart." hahaha!

Betty C. said...

That is so cool that you went to Austin to see LBR. Normally I'm meeting up with a fellow expat blogger in Albi tomorrow -- I hope it all works out!

I read "The Wind-Up Bird..." this year. It left a strong impression on me but I had a little trouble getting through some of the parts that go off on sidetracks. I'm thinking of trying "Norwegian Wood" -- it sounds a little less dense. (Exhausted moms have trouble getting through heavy tomes..) Have you read it?

b said...

Dr. B... Do you?! I'm so glad to hear that. I love these boots too and still hope for the possibility that they could be on my feet again one day... and by that, I mean outside of the store and mine! :)

Run Around Paris... haha. I am finding myself using "the" a lot since returning from Austin. And I think that "the Walmart" is a common one! :)

Betty... I know. I'm so lucky I got to visit her. We had such an incredible time together. I hope your blogger meetup goes well tomorrow! Hopefully we'll hear about it?

I'm getting towards the end of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. I really do like it and there is so much going on symbolically and otherwise. I am sure my brain will have much to digest upon finishing! No, I've not read or even heard of Norwegian Wood. If you do read it, please let me know what you think! Haha... I can imagine exhausted moms have a tough time even getting through a book! I'm a single girl and have my struggles! :)

Lynn said...

Your eperience at "the" boots r us left me grinning silly, can't laugh out loud coz I'm at the office. Am mentally imagining you girls jumping away haha!

If only there were sunlight shining through the window in my office here, it'd conceal this color green on my face. ;-)

b said...

Lynn... Oh, it was a hilarious experience. LBR and I still laugh over it!! :) And yes, we were jumpin and screamin like girls! Wish you could have been there. The green on your face would have gone lovely with the boots LBR tried on, although you wouldn't have been wearing green on your face if you were with us! ;-)