Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Home Sweet Austin

I have been shirking my blog duties! Austin has been busy and beautiful. The weather has remained in the 70s and sunny, school work has picked up in the past week, and I had a special visitor the past four days. Robby flew in from NYC for Halloween.

Last week one of my classmates posted on his facebook status a message to the effect of how grateful he is to be at the law school he always dreamed to attend in the city he always dreamed to reside. Unlike my classmate who seems to have had a good idea of his path for a long time, I never could have predicted I would be attending UT Law, let alone that I would live in Texas. Yet, like my classmate, I do have a keen sense of gratefulness to be where I am now. This sentiment is omnipresent among students I talk to at UT Law. I think it is the symbiotic combination of living in a diverse, affordable, "weird" city and studying at a great school that has instilled in us this sense of appreciation.

With these thoughts abound, Robby arrived in Austin on Friday. I loved having him around so I could share with him this enthusiasm for my new home. Friday night we had a drink with friends downtown and then headed to the Alamo Drafthouse on 6th Street for the 10:00 showing of Nightmare on Elm Street with the Master Pancake Theater (http://www.originalalamo.com/Signature.aspx?id=15). Master Pancake is an improv group who comments as the movie is playing. They will ad lib their own dialogue, or make keen observations on the movie. As we learned, the mother in Nightmare on Elm Street is constantly drinking vodka and a character in the beginning of the movie looks eerily like Rod Stewart (a woman, of course).

Saturday we decided to take advantage of the perfect weather and conduct our own walking tour of Austin. We walked from my apartment to the Capital (about 20 blocks), then to downtown (about 8 blocks) and over the river to South Congress (about 20 blocks). We walked through the UT campus, passing a pond overrun with turtles, then to and through the Capital and its grounds, pausing for a picture of Robby with the Dubya portrait. We came upon the Texas Book Festival downtown, walked through food stands with huge outdoor grills, and saw a cooking show being filmed. Our final destination became a Tex-Mex restaurant on South Congress, which was hopping at 12:30 in the afternoon. It may have been because it was Halloween, or just because it's Austin, but there seemed to be a party everywhere we went. The bar was packed and in the spirit of the festivities, we enjoyed a couple margaritas. We then headed back to my apartment to put on our costumes. Robby donned a banana suit and I was a sock-hop girl in a poodle skirt and cat-eye glasses.

Robby happened to have a friend in town staying at the Hotel San Jose (http://www.sanjosehotel.com/) on South Congress so we went to catch up with him and his friends before the Halloween evening activities ensued. The Hotel is one story with cabana-like rooms and an outdoor pool/bar. It's inexpensive with a retro style that emits that cool, laid-back Austin vibe.

We headed from South Congress to downtown and bar-hopped a bit before meeting up with a Trinity friend and her husband and sister at a lounge. They told us about their friends who were in a cross-dressing informal parade that was going through Austin, the paraders dressed as a marching band complete with the instruments and baton-twirling. The band made its way through the bar and I made sure to get photos with the members. Those ladies were looking hot.

We proceeded to 6th Street around 10 PM and the street was packed with costumed revelers. We toured the grounds to costume-watch and settled on a 6th Street bar, whose name of course escapes me. There we encountered two more bananas and a banana dance-party ensued. Robby and I headed home around 11:30, satisfied we experienced an Austin Halloween.

Sunday night we went with my friend from school and her boyfriend to The Salt Lick (http://www.saltlickbbq.com/), a famous barbeque restaurant outside Austin in the Hill Country. It's located in a dry county, which I didn't even realize existed until last weekend, so we brought a couple six-packs. We filled up on the best brisket, ribs, and sausage I (and Robby too, I think) have had and made sure to leave with the mail-order catalogue. The finest smoked meat in Texas is a pretty solid Christmas present.

Robby stuck around until Tuesday and it was such a pleasure to have a buddy with whom to share this wonderful place. For the first time, I felt like I was showcasing my home. When Robby was here in August it was over 100 degrees every day, I didn't know anyone, and I got lost with every turn. Since then, the temperature has dropped 30 degrees, I have friends, and I know the cardinal directions from most points on campus. It's been a pretty productive 2 1/2 months.

While it was wonderful to have Robby in town, he was quite the distraction so now I am hunkering down with my schoolwork.

Above are some pictures from Robby's visit, taken on our Saturday walk and with some marching band members Halloween night.

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