Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The other day someone text messaged me and asked, "How do you like being in Austin?" And without hesitation I said, "I love it. I absolutely love it." And the person simply wrote back, "Why?"

In that moment a million things flew through my head and I tried to text message back all of them.

I have a job that I wake up looking forward to, doing something I enjoy but still have so much to learn about. I work with people who make me laugh every single day. They have accepted me and taken me in. When I go to lunch with my boss she prays before we eat. We discuss our faith and what God is doing in our lives. We share prayer requests.

I have found a church that I believe in and I'm ready to serve. I get lost in worship every Sunday morning and I learn so much from every sermon.

I have met people who have encouraged and loved me in unbelievable ways. I feel like everyone I know is ten steps ahead of me in the best way possible, a way that helps me see every day what it's like to live out Christ's love.

I talked to a stranger in the drive-thru window at Wendy's the other day who said, "It's nice to see someone smiling so big today. Thank you." That man's voice comes to my mind every time I feel myself getting a bit crabby. I met a homeless man today who knocked on my window and asked me for 75 cents for the bus. I told him I had nothing and in fact showed him my wallet so he wouldn't think I was blowing him off. He very sincerely said, "No worries ma'am. I hope you have a blessed day," and then walked away. A man with nothing just said he hoped that I had a blessed day when by his standards, I have everything.

In less than two months I have people who have shown up for me at the most crucial moments and they sure didn't have to. Since day one I have never felt like the new girl in a big place, never felt lost in the crowd. And while that can sometimes fog up our focus on God, it's given me more clarity than I think I've ever had. I feel God's presence all the time and I'm learning to seek Him in ways I never have before. And every day, I wonder what I did to feel so lucky.

As I watched my text response get longer and longer as to why I love being here, I realized that I could sum it all up much more simply...

"because I know I'm right where God wants me."


Saturday, July 26, 2008

I still don't really know who Ben White is...

It didn't take long for me to realize that Ben White is a very important man to the city of Austin. It did take me about two months to wonder why. But once I started wondering, I started realizing that he is much more important that I'd noticed.

One of the major roads in Austin is named after him...Ben White Blvd. There's a Ben White Florist and a Ben White Automotive. There are gas stations and storage units and animal hospitals.

And on a day when I had a lack of anything better to think about apparently, I not only wondered, but accidentally said out loud, "Who is Ben White?" As brilliant as the other four Austin residents in the car with me are, they didn't know the answer and I got the distinct impression that they didn't care. I think the exact response that I got was, "Why don't you find out and blog about it."

So I did find out. Kind of. And I am blogging about it. What I was able to learn about the legendary Ben White via Google was that he served on Austin City Council for 16 years from 1951-1967. Now, lots of people have served on Austin City Council and I'm guessing many of them for extended periods of time so I can't help but think that Ben White had some extra sparkle to cause people to name half the village after him. So I looked and looked and looked and looked, trying to figure out what his extraordinary contributions were to the capital city of the greatest state in the world. And alas, I came up with nothing more than his 16-year stint on city council. For awhile, I was very motivated to find more information and bound and determine to enlighten everyone I know with it.

I went to About.com to read a short posting that stated Ben White Blvd. was named for the man who served on city council for 16 years. I scoured the page looking for anything else of value. I read down through related articles:

"King Bed in Garden Cottage"...?
"Quilting Resources and Supplies in Austin"


"Naturism and Nudism in Austin."

And right there on that About.com page, my motivation died.

Amazing Video...


Monday, July 21, 2008

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Love Me Some Livestock

Yet again this morning, a chicken ran across the one road I drive every day in Uhland, Texas. Chickens can run pretty fast I've discovered and in fact the more times I see a chicken run, the more I'm amazed that their chubby little round bodies are even supported by their scrawny little, well chicken legs. It is a magical thing really and it's these little moments of beauty that make me fall more in love with Uhland all the time.

The other day my beautiful friend Charlotte informed me that there is a list out there containing a number of items and in order for a town to be considered a town, it must have at least three of the things on this list. I wondered about Uhland, TX and what it has that qualifies. All I could come up with was a dance hall, a stop sign and a chicken. I suppose on the official list chickens probably fall under a "livestock" category or something of that nature.
Speaking of which, someone's cow got loose the other day. Apparently it's a bit illegal in Texas to have your livestock just roaming the sides of the highway, but sometimes these things just happen and a cow finds a hole in the fence and meanders a little too far from his pasture. As I drove by it at roughly 65 miles an hour I wondered if there was something I should do about it, but never having had any experience in dealing with stray cows, I couldn't even come up with any good options. Even if I had stopped, I didn't suppose that the cow had any identifying features that would help me know where he lived. So, I just kept driving hoping that some good cow-herding Texan would come behind me and know exactly what to do to help the lost cow find his way home.

And so goes life in this great place. And I love every minute of it.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

I love Texas folk

I love the people of Texas for so many reasons. But here's my absolute favorite:

They still seem to be surprised that it's hot outside.

Since my arrival here I have never failed to be amazed at how frequently people talk about the temperature. I am still in shock that Texas being hot continues to be a point of discussion for indigenous peoples of the great country of Texas. In the first few days that I was here, I was in the Walmart parking lot and I saw two men who were apparently friends, but the kind of friends that hadn't seen each other in awhile, making their encounter somewhat uncomfortable.

Man #1 says, "Oh, uh hi. How are you?" To which man #2 very naturally responds, "I'm doing well. Thanks."

...awkward pause...

Man #1 says in response, "Sure is hot out here ain't it?"

And there it was my friends. This was what I determined very early on must be the epitome of superficial conversation in Texas. But I stand corrected as I have come to learn that people from Texas quite frequently discuss, whine about, notice and cry over the fact that Texas is in fact hot.

Every native Texan I have met has at some point commented to me that it is particularly toasty on any given day. In fact I don't know that I've gone an entire day without someone mentioning it.

Never once, on the other hand, has it crossed my mind to talk about such a thing. Now everyone knows that I'm not from Texas not only for the fact that I say "begal" rather than "baygel" or because I didn't know to stay off Congress any time before 6:00, but also because I refuse to complain about the heat. In fact my grandmother called me the other day and said, "You haven't said anything about the heat down there," to which I replied, "Well, it's hot." I feel a little like Forrest Gump every time because that's really all I have to say about that. But I suppose that with time, as one beautiful Texan informed me, I too will be noticing the way my body temperature rises to absurd levels every time I step out into the Texas sun. And inevitably, I will feel a need to comment on it to every person I meet. And when I get there, well I suppose then I will have arrived. On that day, I will know that I am a true Texan.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

God Bless Texas

Just weeks ago I moved down south to the great country of Texas, or so the people of Texas think of it anyway. I've never met such a humbly arrogant group of citizens in my life, but maybe what I see as arrogance is just a healthy dose of pride. Pride that drives women to tattoo "TEXAS" across the small of their back. I don't suppose tattooing "MISSOURI" down my arm would garner much respect. But things here are different. And if you're going to be different, you've got to own it. Admittedly, when I see a woman confidently sporting TEXAS ink I don't really even question it, as long as she walks with her head held high.

And so goes life here in the "Don't Mess With Us" State.

I currently live in Uhland, Texas, a stoplightless town of 300 where inbred cats have learned to walk gracefully on all six of their legs and chickens cross the road every time I come around the corner. It is home to Club 21, one of many dance halls claiming to be the oldest in Texas. It seems to be a hopping place where barefoot children are playing outside at midnight every Friday while their parents boot-scoot and boogie.

It all has a certain undeniable charm to it. Every night I fall asleep to the sound of windchimes and periodically a coyote howling. I can actually see the stars in the sky at night and watching hummingbirds makes up for the periodic projectile lizard that flies out of my purse and lands on my bed or various other wildlife that get caught chillin' out in places they're not supposed to be anyway.

And then I go to work every day on the East Side of downtown Austin, a world away from where I fall asleep every night. The community is exciting and young, but also homeless and broken. I waved to a man standing on a corner the other day because that was all I had to offer him, along with a smile. I didn't know how he'd respond and I hoped he wouldn't think I was patronizing him. But he smiled back and waved with just the tips of his fingers so as not to let go of his cardboard sign. I wonder what people like him see on a daily basis. I'm guessing his view of the world is much more accurate than mine.

Every day I find a new little dive I want to frequent and wonder how I'll ever have enough time here to experience everything I want to experience, meet everyone I want to meet. But inevitably, in my spare time, I find myself back at Dominican Joe, my new favorite coffee shop and object of my affection and loyalty. And so begins my life as an adopted Texan.