I have been in Austin for one week and one day and I have a lot of thoughts so far.
First, it’s hot. I came during the record hot week with every day being over 100 degrees. But it’s not like hell or anything. It’s humid but absolutely fine. I guess it’s to be expected that the people who said the humidity was going to be awful was people who found Colorado’s 0% humidity preferable.
I think it’s been slightly hard riding my bike. I still ride my bike unless I need to go somewhere far but it’s a little tougher. The streets don’t have bike lanes or if they do, they aren’t well kept. And drivers are way worse here around bikes. They are more aggressive or more fearful. As a biker, the more fearful drivers are more dangerous to me. They lurk behind, too scared to pass and then they start backing up traffic and an aggressive driver will pull out and gun it past me.
It’s hotter to bike ride too. I love the evenings right around 8:30 when the sun sets and I hop on my bike and can enjoy the warm summer night without a drop of sweat.
Warmth! That’s what I came here for and during the day, it’s sometimes a little too warm, but at night it’s great.
So what have I done this week?
On Sunday, I went to the Bullock Texas State History Museum and it was interesting. A good kick-off to life in Texas I suppose. I also went to a live reading of the Mueller report. Let me tell you, that’s a hard thing to make entertaining but thankfully funny performers, sarcastic additions, and witty commentary can make it tolerable.
Monday, I rediscovered how much mosquitos love my skin and made an emergency run for cortisol cream.
Tuesday, I went to Antone’s, Austin’s iconic blues venue. This regular band called Antone’s Big Trio was on that night and I get it. I get why Austin is the capital of live music. The performers were amazing, the music was just spectacular, and Antone’s was intimate and felt like a dark secret watering hole wedged between the dirty 6th Street madness.
Wednesday, I went to the Austin Chronicle’s Pride Party at the Blanton Museum of Art. I always have to remind myself that I like admiring all the price festivities but dislike participating in them. I’m just not that kind of person to enjoy loud flamboyant dancing, flashy aesthetic and cosmetic expression, and spirited interactions. I most definitely felt overwhelmed so I dodged my way to the exhibit. It was great pieces of work by Jeffrey Gibson: This Is The Day. They were works about identity, survival, authenticity, celebration, and wellness all heavily concerned around his Choctaw-Cherokee background. I also experienced the bus system for the first time which wasn’t bad but the bus driver honked at a biker just for biking.
Thursday, I went to my local library branch and to this event called Adult Story Hour. The topic was trees and this wonderful woman went. She was already a brilliant orator but her story actually made me cry right there in that library community room of 10 people. I wish I could retell it but nothing I could write up would be able to live up to her story. I have thought about it every day since hearing it though, partially afraid I’ll forget it.
Friday, I went to an outdoor movie screening of Ralph Breaks the Internet. It was advertised as one of those family-friendly events and it was free so I went but it ended up being two other families and me, a college looking girl by herself. I thoroughly enjoyed it though and actually really liked this relaxing night.
Saturday, I joined in on some volleyball per usual. It was hot, I and everyone else was soaking in sweat. But the heat was gone when the breeze came and unlike Colorado, the sun wasn’t stinging my skin. All my transplant friends from Colorado always commented how the sun felt worse because you were so much closer to the sun in Denver and I can see what they are saying. It’s hotter and more humid in Texas, but the sun doesn’t burn. After my morning playing volleyball, I spent the afternoon inside and then went out to explore downtown a bit. I checked out the original Whole Foods but spent my time reading at Book People, a big award-winning bookstore. I hung around downtown to see the Pride Parade (and Mayor Pete Buttigieg made an appearance) but left since most of it was just corporate brands showing how inclusive they are (and screaming buy our products!). I spent the rest of the night just zooming around parks and bridges downtown on my bike.
Yesterday, Sunday, I went to Wildflower Church. It’s the Unitarian Universalist church on the south side of Austin. Full of welcoming, largely older folks, who were really nice and interested in my new move. I saw The Farewell and if you want any insight into my trip to China and what China is like, that movie sums it up to a tee. It’s a great movie by the way. It balances humor, family, and sadness in a way that doesn’t feel exploitative or inauthentic. I then went to a free comedy show and tried socializing a bit but still ended up feeling a little disconnected. I suppose I just need to find a group of people I connect with.
I have a routine that I like. I wake up at 5:30 am and either run or walk for about 2 hours. I’m surprised the sun rises way later and sets way earlier than in Colorado. The sun doesn’t rise until about 6:30 here and in Colorado when I woke up at 5:30, the sky would already be light. The sun sets right around 8:30 and I was used to biking around at 9:00 at night without needing my bike light on. It’s fine though because I have come to love the sunrises and enjoy the few minutes of mild air. It’s still about 80 degrees but that’s great to me.
I then get home, shower because I’m usually soaked in sweat, and run errands, cook food, or read before I sit down at my desk and work. I’ll work until 6 or so depending on the days work and this past week, I’ve been zooming off to whatever event I’m going to. But I’ve decided I want to go to the library after I’m done with work if I have nothing going on. That’s where I am right now as I write this. I love that the library is open until 9pm! The Denver Library closed at 6 so I could never really get there in time to enjoy it. My local library has air conditioning, it’s quiet, and it makes me focus on reading or writing which is hard to do in my room. It also makes me get out of the house which I feel like I’ll need to do after spending all day inside.
I’m saying a lot of positive things but I’m also a bit sad. I miss Denver and I miss my friends. I miss the mountains, the long days, and my nice park filled with people playing volleyball and having picnics. I miss being able to walk to the grocery store–I have to drive or bike here–and there’s a lot of cringe-y hipsters here. I haven’t really seen many Asian folks which is largely because I live on the south side. Here there’s absolutely nothing Asian since all the Asian folks live in the north. I miss Asian grocery stores and I feel pretty alone.
I spent a lot of my time alone in Denver, but I guess I had the comfort in the back of my mind that I knew people and had friends that I saw every week or so. I miss my running friends that I ran with Mondays and Wednesdays at Union Station. I miss my Wednesday Night Cruiser friends where we biked around downtown Denver with a loudspeaker blasting music out of a kid carrier hooked to our bikes. I miss my volleyball buddies that I played with on Saturdays. My Asian American activist friends that met once a month and my mentee who was always such a pleasure to see. I’m obviously getting out and trying to go to things where I’ll find similar people and I know it will take a while.
I’m hopeful, there’s a lot of things I like about Austin so far. So we’ll see.
Things I’ve Come Across and Recommend
What does it mean to adopted and brought up far away from your country of birth? In “Given Away,” this week’s moving new Op-Doc by directors Glenn and Julie Morey, Korean adoptees who grew up in Western countries reflect on the complicated emotional terrain that they’ve navigated in their lives.
Glenn Morey was himself adopted from Korea in the wake of the Korean war, and the directors have channeled that connection to create a beautifully nuanced and emotional film. As the Moreys write of Glenn’s experience interviewing adoptees, “He has needed others like him … to help him make sense of his life. They have also helped him make peace with the universe.”
My note: I heavily recommend this. One of the stories really resonates with my feelings.
BASED ON AN ACTUAL LIE. From writer/director Lulu Wang and starring Awkwafina.
THE FAREWELL — Now playing.
RELEASE DATE: July 12, 2019
DIRECTOR: Lulu Wang
CAST: Awkwafina, Tzi Ma, Diana Lin, Zhao Shuzhen, Lu Hong, Jiang Yongbo
What I Have Been Reading:
- Finishing Writing Notes: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
- Currently Reading: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- Currently Reading: Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer