More America

America Extravaganza 2013 continued with a trip to Austin on Tuesday. I had plenty of things to show Ju, and Austin can’t really be done in one day. But we made a good effort.

First, we walked through the UT campus so I could show Ju where I got my masters.

The UT Tower

The UT Tower

We took a little walk down the Drag where I noticed, for the first time, this mural in the little artists’ square, where you can recognize the major cities of Texas.

El Paso

El Paso

Austin

Austin (you can easily recognize the capitol and the UT tower)

San Antonio (with the Alamo and the Tower of the Americas)

San Antonio (with the Alamo and the Tower of the Americas)

This must be Houston.

This must be Houston.

The artists

The artists

Then we went to Torchy’s Tacos which was as usual amazing.

IMG_0494

After buying a dress next door and taking another trip to Amy’s Ice Cream (for a real milkshake), I showed Ju where I used to live and we drove down to the Greenbelt.

We were looking for rock-climbing, not so much to try since J didn’t have his equipment, but to get a look around. We found some of the walls but no bouldering. The creek-bed was totally dry. It was a bit eerie.

Me in the middle of the creek

Me in the middle of the creek

Ju on a waterfall.

Ju on a waterfall.

I’m not sure but I think this must be a result of the endless drought that’s happening in Texas.

Yesterday we were back in San Antonio, so we went to the Botanical Gardens since J seems to have endless questions about plant and animal life here and I have no answers. We saw some original Texas homes, native plants, cacti, turtles, and ducks, as well as the new super cool birdwatching spot.

Cactus

Cactus

Turtles sunning on a log

Turtles sunning on a log

An old East Texas log cabin

An old East Texas log cabin

Then last night we went to a Spurs game. It was my first professional basketball game. We got a free hot dog, drink, and chips with entry. Fortunately we went to Five Guys for lunch yesterday so Ju could taste a good American hot dog because the one at the game was pretty sad.

They lost, 101-104, in overtime.

They lost, 101-104, in overtime.

Today’s our last day so we’re taking it easy, doing laundry, eating lunch with my mom, being sad (me more than Ju who has by now spent almost three weeks in Texas).

In Texas

Well! I’ve been in Texas since Saturday night, and though I was sad to leave J, it’s been pretty fun (except for the jetlag). My belle-soeur arrived before my brother, so we went out with my parents to Urban Taco, a Dallas-based restaurant, and it was super yummy. In fact, it’s been almost nothing but yummy restaurants since I arrived:

Urban Taco
Azuca
La Gloria (on the new Riverwalk extension)

And then in Austin today with old high school friends L, R, and my bro and belle-soeur, we ate at Torchy’s, walked up Mount Bonnell, and went to the little French Legation Museum before having coffee at Progress.

I’ve been going to bed at 9/9:30 and getting up at 8. Most likely that will end soon but usually it doesn’t even last this long. So not much has been happening in the evenings. But it’s still been super fun. San Antonio is an awesome place to have family.

Rambling

I move out tomorrow and it definitely feels like the place isn’t exactly mine anymore. I’ve been very content here. It’s always been a relief to come back to this place that was empty of people but was also very comfortable. I can’t say I’m particularly attached to it. It’s been a little weird living in a place that is really someone else’s—certain closets full of their things, their plants growing in worrisome directions, their mattress making my back feel twisty. I’m starting to see it the way it was when I moved in, before I covered it with my things. But all the same, it’s always a little weird for me moving out of places. I start to think about how I became comfortable in one place. I was especially sad to leave my and Grace’s apartment when we graduated.

I can’t believe it’s been a year since my job in Reims ended. My second-years are done with classes forever (except for the odd one or two who’ve decided to pursue another degree) and my first-years are soon to be third-years.

Last year at this time I knew that (please tolerate how convoluted this will sound) I would have done my year in Reims all over again if I could have. So far I can’t say that about this one. Maybe I should just wait till September and see how I feel then.

Back in Austin.

It seems I’m doing my annual guidebook binge, and this year I picked up Let’s Go France and Lonely Planet The Middle East. Currently I’m dreaming of going to

Petra,

Siwa (Egypt),

and Istanbul.

Who knows if it’ll actually happen. As for France, I’d still like to go to the Dune de Pilat. That one I think has a good chance of actually happening.

Otherwise, I got new contacts this morning. I can’t see very well from my right eye so I’m going back in next week after I’ve worn them a while. But I don’t really mind, I’m just happy to have them. Classes start up Thursday and S and I are driving down to San Antonio on Friday evening so she can see more of Texas before she goes back off to California. I got kind of spoiled staying at home and being fed. We went to the opening of the new Riverwalk museum extension and I took lots of pictures but they’re on my mom’s camera and I forgot to get them. It goes from the old Pearl Brewery to the San Antonio Museum of Art to downtown, I guess? This is the SAMA in the old Lone Star Brewery:

(Not my picture, none of these are.) Maybe I’ll put up some pictures when I get back to SA this weekend.

Austin feels kind of boring. All of my friends are gone right now. I think I’m sort of ready to leave too.

When I was getting ready to leave France,

thinking about October or March was like looking into a big black hole where I couldn’t believe I would still be in the U.S. and couldn’t imagine what my life would be like, except that it would still not be France.

At the same time I was so astonished at how sad I was to be leaving Reims (it was so pretty in the summer, like a completely different town) that I figured that I would get attached to pretty much any city I ever live in, including Austin.

It’s not at all the end yet (one more month of spring classes, one very full month of summer classes, and two months of probably hanging out in San Antonio, thanks Mom and Dad), and yet it’s easy to see that this year has been a good one. There was no heartbreak, no loneliness, no boredom, a few good friends made, and lots of friendly acquaintances.

I still can’t imagine staying in the U.S. for the moment. I consider it now and then and it just feels like there’s unfinished business elsewhere. But I think what I’ve learned is that how I’ll feel about all of this in the future is sort of unpredictable.

It doesn’t hurt that Austin is a multicultural, environmentalist, progressive, live music center. But I want somewhere with more history and more population density. At least for now. (Also I’d have to buy a car and get allergy shots if I were to stay in Texas.)

Visit

I had an excellent day. My mom and dad and uncle came into town and we went up to Mount Bonnell and then to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, both of which I’ve been meaning to do but hadn’t gotten around to yet. I want to go back to the wildflower center in April when there will be more flowers. I forgot my camera though so I want to go back also for that. I have a macro setting to test out. Next weekend I hope to be in San Antonio to see the Luminaria arts night.

Oak pollen beat out cedar pollen today. I think there is hope. Also there is a possibility that it might rain here this week. I could not be happier about that.

Out of flonase.

Sent away for some.

I didn’t work this weekend and I had soooo much time. I got sooo much work done today that tomorrow I have time to take a real trip to the grocery store.

Think am going to review the DALF reading/writing section for my test evaluation class. Or maybe the DELF. Whichever is easier to get all the info on. I found a bunch and then my hard drive crashed while I was running a back-up so I lost it. Am having trouble nailing down the same information again.

We need rain. I can’t find anything in the news about allergies (WHEN WILL THEY END) but lots about the drought.

I can’t really say that if I’d made a really informed decision about what allergy season would be like here that I would have come here for grad school. (Was there a more convoluted way to say that?) But I am glad I didn’t know, because I like it here, and whenever this does finally end, I am looking forward to summer. It’s a weird thing to look forward to because I usually hate summer in Texas. But I want to do things like go to Schlitterbahn and Barton Creek (okay so I did buy a new swim suit recently). I’m looking forward to being able to walk outside again, even if it’s 95 degrees.

I’m going to Houston over spring break to have my feet looked at (hope to make surgery-related decisions soon after) and Anna said we could go to the Houston rodeo. I’m excited. Yes it will be my first rodeo.