What a long, strange trip it’s been

I’m sorry, Jessalee, but this will be the ultimate what i did post. I am trying to get in to some sort of rhythm of writing posts, so I’m not going to let myself get blocked behind a desire to have rich, insightful commentary.

So tonight is my last night in Austin. I’ve been here since before Christmas, and it has been a long, relaxing, and eventful trip.

Here is the play-by-play of the vacation.

Friday 12/23 : I flew out of Seattle on the redeye. Jackie agreed to drop me off at the airport after I bribed her with some bread pudding. The Austin pavement was soaked with sunlight when Kayla picked me up at 9am. We met Jared at campus Kerby to catch up and eat Obligatory Austin Meal #1: Kerby Migas with the rice and beans substituted for homefries. Kayla and I visited the Rennisance market off the drag and picked up some marble creatures and found-object art.

As soon as I got home, Dad and I put together the Media Center from the parts that I had shipped to the house. We had everything up and running in about 2 hours, sans obsessive configuration. To date, the media center has become a member of the family, and I’m sure I’ll get a phone call if it ever gets sick.

Later that evening, the family went down to the Alamo Drafthouse to see The Mr. Sinus Christmas Show. Everyone thought it was hilarious except for dad. He doesn’t appreciate the profanity and fart jokes as much as the rest of us.

Saturday 12/24: Christmas eve day. I can’t remember actually doing anything. I think I watched Cheer Up! Man of the House that night. Then I wrapped presents with Kayla after Mom and Dad went to bed.

Sunday 12/25: Christmas day. We woke up early to open presents. I got some great Texas-themed wall-hangy objects. One is a framed replica of the last letter that William Travis wrote from the Alamo. It’s the one where he says ‘So we’re surrounded, and they’re shooting at us. We know we’re doomed, but we’re going to suck it up and fight it out. Please send some bakckup.’ Every time I read it, I am amazed at how brave these men were. I also got a round, wrought iron lone star emblem, emblazoned with an unmistakable T-E-X-A-S. Once I put these up in the apartment, with my burnt orange couch and six-foot mounted longhorns, there will no longer be any confusion over where we are from.

We went to dim sum for lunch at Tien Hong. Mom hated everything, and sent it all back. She doesn’t really like dim sum, or Tien Hong, but came for the sake of family, and since Dad loves it. Thanks, Mom. Truthfully, I thought the dim sum on Christmas was average at best. Many of our dishes were cold or tepid, and nothing was particularly tasty. Ate it anyway.

The rest of the afternoon was spent playing with our new webcams. The idea is that we can keep in touch using audio/video conferencing with MSN or Skype. I wonder if there is enough novelty in video make it worth it. We’ll see.

Monday 12/26: Stephen came in to town Monday night. We hung out with the family for a while, and then we headed over to Chris’s for a while. We talked tech and polotics and then headed over to Taco C. Chris tried to order flaquitos, which do not exist. The cashier girl, who was a bitch, eventually sold Chris some flautas. I took the opportunity to fulfill Obligatory Austin Meal #2, Taco C Grilled Chicken Cabana Bowl with plenty of orange salsa.

Tuesday 12/27: Mom and I went to H.E.B., and I got all the goodies necessary for my family dinner. I got a chance give Mom a night off from cooking, and stoke my cooking habit. Chris and Justin joined us, and brought a delicious Spanish wine, which they picked out especially to match the meal. The menu was an homage to the meal that Jackie, Eliot and I cooked in early December. The feast included:

Wednesday 12/28: I napped all day. That night the family headed down to the Athenian Grill on Congress for Kayla’s much belated birthday dinner. It was fantastic. If you have not eaten there, go. You will not be disappointed.

Thursday 12/29: This afternoon, I had the pleasure of a lunch date with Amanda. Together, we satisfied Obligatory Austin Meal #3, The Two-Meat plate at Pok-E-Jo’s, with a gigantic Sweet Tea. We took my dad’s shiny Z, and we went the long way, via 2222 and 360. Amanda sat indian-style in the front seat as we zipped through the twists of the mountain-hugging road. After lunch, we walked over to Barnes and Noble. Amanda was kind enough to pose for some photos. I bought a new book by Kurt Vonnegut, which I have not begun to read yet.

This brief encounter was enough to renew my impossible crush on Amanda, which I will probably never get over.

I went over to Chris’s to watch the Alamo Bowl. Leslie joined us, and later Brendan arrived from Houston. We watched OU drop the Big XII hammer on Oregon, and teased Leslie with the vibrating lumbar pillow. Later, Jessalee called, and we headed over to Possee. Not too many people were there, and Jess was tired, so we took off.

Friday 12/30: Brendan and I met up with Jess at her apartment at noon, and we went to Zen Japanese Fast Food for lunch. Jessalee had enough faith to let me take pictures, either that or she just grew tired of protesting. We sat and talked for a long time after we finished our food. Brendan and Jess had a chopstick fight, and we made a tower out of our utensils. We got kicked out of the restaurant for making religiously insensitive comments and napkin drawings*. Later we went back to Jess’s place, and Brendan tried to knit. On AIM, Jess professed her desire to handcuff and do nasty things with Chris M**. We sat around until Jessalee had to go to the pre-Rose Bowl rehearsal, and then Brendan and I went back to Round Rock to see my family and eat dinner.

* Not really, but that’s what we told Jessalee after we snuck out while she was in the bathroom.
** Not really, but that’s what Chris M. thought becasue I typed the messages to him using Jessalee’s screen name.

I stopped by the rehearsal for the last bit, and was able to catch a few other friends while they were in town. After that, I jetted over to Chris’s, and we went downtown to catch the Scabs concert with Brendan and Irene. We braved the line even after being told that it was “pretty much sold out.” Most people gave up, and we eventually made it in. The Scabs were their usual amazing selves. Charles “Razor” Reiser, (the guitar player that isn’t slowpoke) was not there for some reason. Bob said it had something to do with a sex change operation. Unfortunately, the sound was so loud that it was distorted. I left a little early in order to take Chris home. I didn’t mind, because my ears were ringing so loudly, I could hardly comprehend the music by that point anyway .

Saturday 12/31:
New Year’s Eve. Chris, Brendan , and I went down to the “Frist Night Austin” festival downtown. This was the first time Austin had ever put on such an event. There was a parade, which was pretty tame, and then some artsy dancing stuff out in front of the new city hall. We retreated under the cover of the tepid family fireworks finale, and we got in line at Katz’s. Chris jetted home to retrieve his wallet and watch, the absence of which was causing him intolerable discomfort all evening. I the interim, Brendan and I detoured over to Book People.

Katz’s hosted Obligatory Austin Meal #4, the Katz’s Pick 3, including the best fruit salad ever. By the time we sat down to dinner, I was feeling pretty bad. By the time we were done, all I wanted to do was lie down. So while the rest of the world was ringing in the New Year, I was asleep in Chris’s guest bedroom, under a merciful dose of NyQuil. I woke up in 2006, and drove myself home.

Sunday 1/1:
New Year’s Day: High for the Holidays. I met up with Chris, Brendan, and special guest Brock down at the Alamo for a screening of Harold and Kumar go to White Castle with all-you-can-eat mini hamburgers. The movie was awesome, and it was great to catch up with Brock. I have a feeling that the Alamo Drafthouse will become one of the future items on the Obligatory Austin itinerary.

Monay 1/2:
Today we watched some football and went shopping. Ohio State made us look good by whipping the Irish. Texas Tech blew it at the end agains Alabama, but committed enough penalties to lose the game by a lot more than they did. Props to their QB for leading the tying touchdown drive in the 4th on leg that was practically broken. He had to be helped off the field after throwing the TD. The afternoon was Sage-Kay day. I went with Kayla all around town on a shoe shopping extravaganza. We went to about 11 shoe stores, looking for nothing in particular. We found nothing in particular, except for two Starbucks frappuccinos, one vanilla and one mocha.

I head back to seattle tomorrow afternoon, and back to work on Wednesday. This vacation has really been a blast. I saw nearly all of the friends I intended to see, and I am thoroughly relaxed. The notable absences were Brette and Natalie. Brette was in Ohio the entire time, and flew directly to California for the Rose Bowl. Natalie was confined to Lubbock, and will not return until after I am long gone. I miss you both.

If you were curious about the title of this post (as I’m sure you were…,) I finally got a chance to listen to my new Grateful Dead CD this break. For some reason, it will not play in my car CD player, but it will play just fine in my portable one and in my dad’s car. The first four-or-five songs are awesome.

Good night, Austin, Texas.