Wistful Wednesday

 So I'm going to tell you about my Wednesday.  I don't have cooking stories.  I don't have pictures.  I don't have videos.  In fact, it's probably really boring.  But it was really important to me.  I think God's showing up in my life more and more.  So I'm gonna share.  It's a lot of reading.  Sorry!  I hope you enjoy it or get something out of it.

I got up today, made breakfast, as usual.  Didn't get gym clothes because I was going to a church function later after work instead of working out.  Grabbed leftovers for lunch..wasn't even enough.  Whatev's.  It was one of those days where I forgot to put on my caring face.  (A waiter here at Austin actually told my group that once after he screwed up our bill twice...lol)

So I got to work.  Finally got some stuff submitted.  But then I was stuck the majority of the day on this one thing I was trying to find.  I was trying really hard not to give up and ask my mentor. I was trying really hard to be patient and find it myself.  I was trying really hard to put it in perspective, and cut myself some slack.  I was getting really fed up with feeling like an idiot.

Eventually, around 2pm, I realized I was going absolutely nowhere.  I finally asked, and of course I was looking in entirely the wrong place.  Then we had a meeting.

After the meeting, I went back to my cube to start actually working rather than searching, making some more progress for the day.  Progress is always good.  During this, I started to ponder.  What am I doing here in Texas?  What do I do these days?  I'm either getting worked up about my own incompetence, fantasizing about how ninjas will ambush our office and we'll all pull out wands and swords and battle them, thinking about how much I miss my friends and family in Illinois, or daydreaming about Magic.  I started thinking about what difference I could make in this world.  I thought about all the money I could give away....but that's it.  And I realized how little I could actually do with that.  I just felt...useless.

After some more progress, I shared with my mentor some of it, and got some more direction.  And I shared with him my frustrations a bit, and he affirmed my efforts, assuring me that at least the things I'm doing are actually helping him a bit.  He didn't really have to say any of that.  But he did.  Not all engineers are socially inept without a sense of compassion.  I think I'm rather blessed.

As the day drew to a close, I was anxious to leave right at 5, because our church group was going bowling tonight really far away at 7, and I was going to have to battle traffic.  After battling the traffic just to get home, we get ready, and we leave just around 6.  Just enough time to get there, I'd say.

On the way there, my car felt a little shaky.  I felt like there were times it veered off a bit.  Nothing major, but it didn't feel right.  Then again, my car is old.  I'm also paranoid ever since I was in that blowout two years ago.

As we head north on the highway, we finally hit the traffic jam, which was to be expected.  It was moving though, which is doubleplusgood.  By the time we start nearing 35th street, with still a while to go, BEEEEP.  

"WHAT?!?" That's always my response when I don't know what's going on after someone beeps at me. I look to my right.  There's a woman.  She wants me to roll down my window.  I fumble for the button while I'm still driving...there we go!  Window rolls down...

"Your rear left tire is really low!!!"
"...Oh, my God, thank you so much, thanks so much!!"

I KNEW IT!!! AHH.  Thank you Jesus for watching out for me. Thank you so much. Thanks so much for that woman.  She rocks.  I think since there's not a level surface in Austin, it makes sense that I didn't notice it earlier. Still, she'd only tell me that if it was really low.  So, I decide that this is a high priority.  I get off at the next exit at 35th street.

Now, I had only been on 35th street a little before.  I was trying desperately to find a gas station...and there were hills and bumps EVERYWHERE.  And no gas stations.  Poor tire...hang on buddy! I take a random left at a light.

...frick...frick...FRICK so many houses! Come on, just one gas station.  Wait...is that..it is!  I pull in, and the nice gas station attendant confirms that the hose I see on the ground is indeed air.  Success!  I get my gauge out, check my front tires first.  Good.  Check my bad tire...wow, doesn't even get a reading.  Ok, buddy, time to get air!

"G, turn the hose on when I plug it in."
(plug in, noises, switch, no noises, switch, noises)
"...it was already on."
"Oh ok.  Let's just fill it up then..."
*30-45 seconds pass*
"K, let's get a reading..."
(take off hose)
"...dear hobbits and halflings, why is it leaking so much air?"
(take reading anyway)
"...crap it's still leaking!"
"Maybe put the cap on?"
(take it off, put cap on)
"..why is it still leaking!? Come on! Here G, take the cap, try to do something. I'mma call my dad."
"..Dad?  Hey." (tell story) "And now....crap....it's actually flat now.  This isn't even drivable."
"...you're gonna have to change the tire.  Do you have a spare in the back?"
"...YES. I didn't realize I'd ever have to actually use that thing."
"Yeah...well, this'll be a good experience for you."
"Heh..yeah, right.  Well there goes bowling for tonight.  Gotta get this fixed now...thanks Dad, bye."

Someone call the freakin' waaaambulance, cause' I was hungry, cranky, stressed, hot (not in the good way), and all sorts of pissy.  We get the tire out, and thank you Lord again for G, because all of those tools came natural to him it seemed.  Him and S also had a flat before.  So he knew a few things.  Long story short, it all gets fixed without a hitch.  Took some time, but we did it!  And we got so much XP, that we gained a level in Mechanic! 

At that point, I just didn't feel like trying to reach out in my church group.  It takes even me a lot of energy to try to get really into socializing with everyone there, and I just didn't have it at that point.  So we decided to head home, and grab food on the way there.  What's this....A Jack In The Box?? You don't say!

So G and I decide to get some fine dining, and grab Jack in the Box.  It was really quiet there.  Kind of nice.  As we're there, I get the impression that maybe some of the people that are there don't actually have homes.  But I'm not sure.  I could just be insensitive.  Nonetheless, I start thinking about stuff from earlier at work.  What AM I doing here?  Worried about fitting in a church, fretting over my stupid flat tire, chowing down on this burger...and then I realize, I've eaten practically every day of my life.  I've had all sorts of good and bad habits.  Working out, nail picking, video games, but eating is one of those things that I've just done everyday.  And for some people, that's unfathomable.  And here I am, worrying about my stupid crap.  What am I contributing to anything?  I can throw money at problems, but that can only do so much.  It's not like I'm Steve Jobs or something.

Well...whatever.  We wrap up. G gets another refill before we take off.  We open the door, step out, and there's that guy that was in there earlier who wasn't talking.  He has something written down on a piece of cardboard.  I was so startled, I read it quickly. I didn't get the whole thing, but basically, he wanted food.  Communicating with him was a little challenging, but he read lips real well.
"You want food?"
"Uh..ok, what do you want?"
*Points at big sign on the window which says "The Really Big Chicken Sandwich Combo, $3.99"*
"You want that?"
*nods vigorously with a smile*
"Ok, just hold on."

So, he comes in and waits by the door while I order the food.  It's a huge sandwich, and a ton of fries, and a drink, and it's not even 5 bucks? Crazy.  While we wait, I ask him his name, where he's from, and stuff.  He only mumbles a word once in a while.  He mouths and signs the rest.  I got: his name is Billy (I think), something about losing his house, he sleeps outside nearby, he's from California, he rows a boat somewhere, and that's about it.  He then asked me to make sure it was in a bag, because he needed to...do something outside?  I didn't get it.  But yes, I reassured him, it's going to be all in a bag.  I also got him his drink.  He wanted Dr. Pepper, it seemed.  Got it.

Foods ready.  I grab it, give it to him.
"Alright...here you go.  Well uh...I guess we're gonna head back home now, so you have a great night, ok?"
(signs and mouths "Thank you")

I then shook his hand, and then I saw it.  He didn't just scamper off, away with his prize.  He was really happy.  Like, really happy.  I saw it in his eyes.  As I walked toward my car, I choked up a bit.  I think that guy was happy to converse with me.  And honestly...I was really happy to converse with him too. 

As I mentioned before...I've been struggling to understand what purpose I have now that I'm out of college.  In college, it was crazy.  Meeting people left and right, watching people encounter loving community and mature in faith and going deeper with each other and with God.  But now...it's been as if my presence here in Austin has had little impact at all. I just want to know that God has something in store for my life down here.
Honestly, this whole encounter wasn't that big of a deal.  All I did was just ask some questions and spend less than $5. I did was most of you would probably have done. But I saw some light in some guy's eyes.  And it was really touching. And I thank God that He let me be part of something that actually mattered to someone.



Quarter-Year Mark!

 Hello there again!  Thanks for coming to my 3 month anniversary of moving to Austin!  It's kind of hard to believe.  The weeks just fly by...

Before I begin, I just want to mention that I'm becoming more aware that people outside of my intended audience (friends and family back at home/school/etc) are actually reading this thing!  If you are one of those people, to you, I say, Willkommen! (That's German for "Welcome")  Feel free to contribute at any time! 

I'm just going to write some little bits about things I think people might be interested in.

It's hard.  As one of my coworkers put it, new hires out of college have an "astronomical" amount to learn.  Good to know that my lack of knowledge is normal.  Still, it makes it difficult sometimes when I want to be as productive as everyone else.  But the people are really cool, the material is really interesting, I'm seeing progress in myself, and my mentor is especially great.  He's really patient with me, knows when to push me, and knows when to walk me through something.  Overall, I think it's a good situation!

Master Pancake and the Bull Ride
So I made this post that talked about the Alamo Drafthouse and if you haven't seen it, check it out here.

Now let me tell you about Master Pancake.  It's these three guys that do these comedy shows at the Drafthouse.  They have a viewing of some movie or TV series and then they sit in the front row with microphones, cracking jokes and making hilarious commentary during it.  They also do a skit in the middle of it, in which they dress in costumes.  It is absolutely hilarious.  A while back, I went to one that made fun of the Star Trek series (both the original series and The Next Generation), and last weekend, I went to one on the Breakfast Club.  I hurt from laughing both times.  If anyone plans on visiting me...let's try to coordinate it for one of their shows, because it's great.

After seeing MP last weekend with some church friends (thanks to my friend Janice for planning it!), we decided that, since we were already downtown, let's live it up a little!  We decided to go to a country bar downtown.  I could tell you all about it.  Or, I'll just put this video here...

My First Cooking Experiment
This past week, I tried to experiment a little, with a little help over the phone from one of my best friends' mom, Mrs. P!  The reason I wanted to try this was actually from an experience I had in France 4.5 years ago.  We ate in a blind restaurant, where it was pitch black, all the servers were blind, and we weren't allowed to bring anything that emitted light in.  I still don't even know what I had to this day, but it tasted like fish and pasta, and it was really good.  Great start for experimenting.

So maybe...tilapia, this tomato alfredo sauce, some linguine, some sauteed mushrooms, some cracker crumbs....it'll be awesome, right?
Actually...it kinda looked like vomit...

It wasn't horrible, actually.  It's just the sauce was so heavy, it didn't click well with the very light fish.  But I sort of liked the cracker crumbs, although G didn't like it as much.  And the noodles were really thick, and I didn't cook them long enough.  Some lessons learned, including sauteing mushrooms!  If you have any more tips, feel free to contribute.

Missing School 
Not this past Thursday, but the Thursday before was freshman move-in day back at Illinois.  I've been missing home/school/friends/family for a while now, but dang.  That was pretty hard that day.  I don't think I've ever missed anything so intensely before.  It was the first day in 4 years I wasn't moving into my dorm.  I really miss it and the community there.  I felt like I had a purpose from God there.  Now, I feel like that's all in the past, and I'm currently struggling with my faith and my purpose here in Austin.  I know there is one, so as Jamie, the Very Worst Missionary (one of my inspirations as of late) was also encouraged, I need to keep going. Even if it's hard at times.  So, that's what I'll do, seeing what God has in store for Austin, and I hope you'll keep reading along!


Actually Arbitrating Around Austin (And Alliteration Always Amazes All)

Ahoy Amigos!  Ok, enough alliteration.  That was killing me.

Wow, it's been exactly 3 weeks since my last post.  And admittedly, until this weekend, life hasn't been super exciting down here.  It hasn't been particularly boring, either.  Just dry...very very dry. Haven't had time to cook much, either.  Let's see...

2 weeks ago, I went with a bunch of coworkers to a local brewery tour!  That was pretty cool, and FREE.  That's right, free beer!  And there was this big man with a cool German accent describing all the different beers to us.  At the end, he was showing us around the place, and a bunch of people were taking video and pictures of him answering questions. I happened to be right behind him.  I couldn't help myself.


Best photobomb ever.  I didn't even know those people.

Yeah so that basically sums up my past three weeks.

As for this past weekend, my friends Drew and Scott flew in and visited me this weekend!  I'm so very blessed...I've only been here 10 weeks!  And being only 10 weeks in, I was pretty surprised, because I was showing them around Austin, and I actually knew where I was going!  This city may not have direction, but it has ME.  So put that in your pipe and smoke it, Austin.

It was pretty ridiculous though, because right after Scott got in, we started to drive west from the airport into the city.  About 3 minutes after we leave, we stop on this very busy road because of an unexpected obstacle...

I mean, I like to drive my house all over roads too, especially so I can park it across 3-4 lanes of traffic, so I can understand. 

But yeah, the weekend as a whole was real great.  I got to show them around downtown, the capitol building, the University of Texas campus, some great places to eat, the Alamo Drafthouse, the bats...it was pretty cool.  I got to show them a ton of other places from my blog, too!  The deceptive Sam's Club without a Wal-Mart, the place where my car broke down right after dropping my dad off at the airport, and where I played Mutha' Effin' Bingo.  And we played trivia!

Moral of the story: If you want to experience what's in this blog, come on down, and I'll show you 'round! (no pressure, hehe)
Oh, and Torchy's Tacos.  It's a great restaurant that I took Scott to.  I showed him the "Trailer Park" taco.  It has fried chicken, pico de gallo, cheese, some crazy poblano sauce, lettuce, and green chilies.  And guess what. You can "Get It Trashy."  That's right.  Your Trashy Trailer Park taco now comes with queso instead of the lettuce!  Best. Taco. Ever. Hands down. Did I mention the RANCH they give you too?!

Hm.  What else?  Well...my roommate, S, moved out, as his internship is finished.  So now it's just me and G!  We're on the lookout for a TV and a couch now that we have more room....

So yeah, life is getting more and more normal.  I kinda don't like it.  It's weird, not being back at school in the dorms at this time of year.   But heck, I really shouldn't complain.  I'm still enjoying my time down here! Just wish you all were here with me...so thanks for coming again and reading!  Hope all is well with you!