Come Back To Texas

IMG_1821   stacytexas

Here is my post about my trip to Austin, Texas. I was there from July 11th to July 26th. It was an awesome trip, like a dream.

This post isn’t well-written or anything… It’s mostly just an account of what I did in Austin, plus pictures. Lots of day-to-day things that make me happy.

And beware, this is VERY long.

I began this blog entry by writing in a notebook on the flight from Dallas/Fort Worth to Tokyo Narita:

On the plane again. I think this is the first time that I havent been excited to go to Japan. I feel nervous. Sad. Worried. Anxious. Having Sam there in the mornings and evenings really helped. But now I go back to my life and job in Japan. One more year. I can do it. One more year to have more great experiences in Japan.

Being home in Texas was like being the old me again. I got mysummer skinback (my sun-tanned skin). I just feltFree. It kind of fortified my desire to live in Austin again. I need to work hard to get into the University of Texas. I need to give it my all. Good luck, me. 頑張って。

7/11 Wednesday

I arrived in Austin after a long journey, after nearly 33 hours of traveling. Sam was there as I walked down the stairs. She spotted me from afar, since I was wearing my ubiquitous University of Texas orange shirt. We hugged for a while, as friends who haven’t seen each other in a year do. We walked to her car and vroomed off to the Wheatsville Co-Op, my favorite little grocery store in the whole world. IMG_1661

We got dinner there and I got to buy most of my favorite things again. It was Wheat-Less Wednesday, meaning tons of gluten-free goodies in the bakery case, hot food bar, and deli.

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Plus, that day was an Owner Appreciation Day, so I got 10% off of my total purchase. That was fun. We went back to her condo to eat dinner and settle in.

I presented her with an army of kitkats and “Green Tea Late Oreos.” Needless to say, she was extremely happy!

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7/12 Thursday

I did not sleep well that first night. I blame it on the jet lag and being too warm (since Sam doesn’t run her air-con while she sleeps and I like to wear clothes when I sleep. I feel weird sleeping without pants. Anyways.) Woke up around 3am and couldn’t sleep. Plus, the internet was broken or being stupid or something. So I watched the South Park movie on dvd; something that required no internet. When Sam woke up, I used her cell phone to make a call to AT&T about the internet.

We left the house at 7:30am to drive to Sam’s work. She works in north Austin, around Burnet and 360/Stonelake. From there, she let me use her car, a very nice new-ish Lexus.

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I drove down south to my gym, met with a membership coordinator there, and re-started my membership for the month.

I was done in time for Britny’s 9:30am Total Conditioning group fitness class. Oh my gosh. I hadn’t felt that weak in a long time. Before I came to Japan, I used to be able to do that class, no problem. It is the hardest class the gym has to offer. But after not strength training for a year, I was WEAK. I seriously thought I was going to lose my breakfast a couple times there. My arms and legs were like noodles. But, I love Britny’s classes so much! I gave it my all and it was so fun.

That night we (Sam and I) met Romy and her firend Lindsey from med school for dinner at Trudy’s. I got the vegetable plate where you can choose 4 items and make your own meal. I got the vegetable plate where you can choose 4 items and make your own meal. I usually always get the fajita veggies, beans, mushrooms, and broccoli with a side of corn tortillas. It was awesome getting to see Romy again and catch up with her. Sam and I also got along really well with her friend, which was also cool.

After dinner, Sam and I drove up to Sweet Ritual, Austin’s new all-vegan ice cream parlour. Sam was full, so the ice cream was for me.

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It was amazing, of course. Vanilla with peanut butter and toasted marshmallows. I was in heaven.

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7/13 Friday

Friday was wonderful because I went on a walk with Becky, my mentor-friend from Westlake Hills Presbyterian Church. We took the long way around and talked about just about everything. We were both wearing Lululemon tops. :) I love it when you meet people and even though a year (or more) has passed, it seems like it’s been no time at all.

After our walk, we exchanged gifts (she hand-knitted me a Japanese kokeshi doll of yarn!) and parted ways again. I am so happy to have her in my life.

Then I was off to my old office to meet my co-workers. I still keep in contact with them, because they are all awesome people. I arrived and got a lot of hugs. A few of them were able to come to lunch at the Madras Pavillion for an all-vegetarian Indian buffet. Ironically, we went to that same place for my farewell lunch a year ago. The food was delicious, as usual. I was awesome seeing everyone again… And my office was empty. No one had taken it over. It was kind of surreal to see my office and desk and chair just sitting there as I had left it. I could still be working there, if I had not decided on JET.

Right around when we were finishing lunch, it started to pour. So instead of driving all around tarnation in the rain before picking Sam up from work… I decided to stay in the area and shop at REI. Then I picked up Sam and our weekend began!

We met Sam’s mom and her two brothers for dinner at Jason’s Deli. I saw Alex first in the parking lot and gave him a big hug. I had a flashback of saying goodbye one year ago in their driveway. Then I saw Adam and Liz in the restaurant, waiting for us. I hugged Adam first and then Liz. When I hugged her, something strange happened. I started to cry. I almost really lost it right then and there, but I had to control myself because I was in public. I guess it was the combination of seeing my Austin family together, previously not being able to cry for months, and being able to hug a mom-figure at last. I’ve been carrying a lot of emotional weight over these last few months.

Here is Liz with her gift:

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After Jason’s we went back to Sam’s mom’s house to pick up a couple things and hang out for a while.

 

7/14 Saturday

On Saturday I got up and took myself to the gym for some exercise. I was still sore from Thursday, amazingly enough. Ouch. But I only did one class (Cardio Kickboxing) and then came back home to Sam who was chilling. We decided to go off to the mall in search of a dress for Nina’s (Sam’s cousin) wedding. I found some clothes for work at the Gap and Sam found a $20 dress at Penny’s that was perfectly cute. Success!

Sam had a 4pm hair appointment, so we left the mall to get her to South Congress in time for that. While she was getting her hair done, I went to study with Romy and Lindsey at Dominican Joe’s for a while.

On our way home, we received in invitation from Sam’s brothers to go out to dinner! It was SO sweet! We deliberated on where to eat and decided on Conan’s Pizza, since they have a vegan deep dish pizza with actual vegan cheese.

Here are the boys!

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And the pizza:

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And girls!

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7/15 Sunday

Woke up sore and tired. Went to Gateway South Campus for church. It was a good message, but I was still kind of lonely sitting there. I went up to ask for prayer afterwards.

I was getting nervous about taking the GRE on Tuesday. I was realizing that there was still a lot of math that I did not know or feel comfortable with. Makes my stomach churn just thinking about it now. This kind of got me into a rather distressed mood.

Sam tried hard to cheer me up and suggested that we go for a walk around the lake. This made me very happy! I got to pet a miniature schnauzer. I really love those dogs, especially with the floppy ears.

From our walk, we went right to Westwood Country Club to have brunch with Nina, her mom, her cousin’s, and Sam’s family. I had a yummy salad while the rain poured outside.

The rain went away in time for us to all lounge by the pool. It was my first time in a real outdoor pool in a year. I was so happy to be in the water and play around like a kid. I think I went off the diving board about 20 times. Maybe more than that. I am such a water person. Give me a pool and some sun and I will be happy. Oh, and thus began my “Operation: Get Tan” project.

 

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What did we do for the rest of the day? We left Westwood late in the afternoon. Sam had work the next day, so we played it low-key.

 

7/16 Monday

Study Day. My plan was to go work out and then study. So I worked out and then studied a bit… but the LifeCafe was pretty noisy and I could not concentrate.

So I finished my lunch and went outside. I could concentrate a little better there, but it was hot and I was tired, so… I kind of took a nap on the deck chair.

Zzz…

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So needless to say, studying didn’t go too well. And then I had a pedicure at 1pm. And then I went somewhere (can’t remember) until I picked up Sam. We hung out at home that evening.

I ate dinner, uploaded pics to Facebook, and studied again until I was tired. I was very nervous for the test the next day.

 

7/17 Tuesday

I woke up early to get ready and Sam drove me to the testing center. It was just south of Oltorf and I-35, not a far drive at all. I got there early, checked in, and went through all of the testing center check-in procedures. Everything was real strict in order to prevent cheating. There would be none of that there.

And then… I took the GRE. Yikes. The test began with the essay portions, which I hadn’t expected. My essays weren’t as fleshed out as I would have liked them to be, but at least my essays were complete. Next was the first math portion. I don’t know about you, but I certainly hate the questions where you choose which value is greater, less than, the same, or incalculable. There were a ton of those. I guessed on a lot of them, to be honest.

The test took a full 4 hours, from 8am-12pm. I was mentally exhausted and hungry by the end of it.

But hey, I was done.

And the best thing about taking a standardized test via computer is the fact that you get your scores immediately on the screen when you are finished. I got a comprehensive score of 303; 158 on the verbal, 145 on the quantitative. I just learned this week that I got a 4 on my essays. According to the internet, these are pretty average scores. Not stellar, but not bad either.

After the test was over, I was without a car… So I walked. I had thought about finding a bus back, but that was just too inconvenient. I just decided to walk. It took over 30 minutes, but that was just because I was taking my time. It was pretty hot outside, so I didn’t want to do any speed-walking or anything. Thank goodness my hair was in a bun because I was pretty much a sweaty mess by the time I got home.

I was very hungry at that point and wanted to bike to Beets Café, but the bike lock key to Sam’s bike was nowhere to be found. There were a couple keys, actually, but none were the right one. I got frustrated and by that time I was too hungry, so I just ate at home.

After lunch I worked on Sam’s old computer and finally got the Google Voice plugin to work so I could call my parents.

You see, I had my iPhone with me, of course. But I had it on airplane mode the whole time so as not to incur any amazing international roaming fees. So that meant that I couldn’t call anyone and no one could call me. I tried to check my email every few hours via free wireless hotspots. That worked pretty well. I borrowed Sam’s cell and used the phone at the gym a couple times. It took a little coordinating, but worked out fine.

And it was awesome being able to call my parents and be in the SAME time zone!

Alex picked me up from the condo around 4/4:30 and took me back to the Curtis house, the same house where I had lived for a year. It was kind of surreal because it seemed as if no time had passed at all.

I began cooking. I had volunteered to cook a meal for the family, so I had decided on curry because that is kind of my specialty now.

So I got to work with some of my music blaring loud. It took a little longer than usual (I blame it on the cabbage), but we were all eating by 7pm. I was so happy that everyone liked it. The boys had generous servings and Alex even had seconds! I was flattered.

It’s awesome to have a whole family enjoy your cooking. The recipe turned out a little different from when I usually make it, but it was still tasty.

After dinner we hung out for a while on Liz’s couch and watched some TV. Liz had also bought half a watermelon from HEB… which was DELICIOUS. Nom nom.

Sam and I went home soon after and it was a pretty uneventful rest of the night.

What a day.

 

Wednesday 7/18

Wednesday was a pretty important day as far as meetings went. I had an appointment with my orthodontist. I guess he wasn’t really my orthodontist because I had never gotten any work done by him, but I had been in to see him when I was a teenager. The reason why I hadn’t had any braces as a teen was because he looked at my teeth and jaw and said that it would be a waste of money at the time. The reason for this was that my jaw was crooked, but still growing. And any work I had as a teen would probably be damaged by growth in my late teen/young adult years. So we (my parents and I) decided to wait. Plus, we saved me the embarrassment of having braces in middle/high school. Yay.

So when I saw the doctor as a 24 (almost 25) year-old, he looked at my teeth/bite and said, “Ah, Stacy, I think this was going to be you. I knew this was going to happen.” I kind of expected that. But I didn’t expect him to recommend that I start Invisalign braces right then and there (while I was in Japan). I’m a year away from jaw surgery, so doing the Invisalign now would be perfect since my time in Japan will also end a year from now. I had not expected to be able to actually start braces now, so it took me by surprise. After the consultation, I told them I needed time to think on it. It was a little fast/overwhelming.

So I left there and went to the gym to take Britny’s 12pm Total Conditioning class. I felt much stronger than last week. Yay strength!

Wednesday night was the “girls of the bride’s family” dinner. This included Nina (the bride), her mom, Sam, her mom, the maid of honor, cousin Annie, aunt Cecile, and me. We ate at Vivo Cafe, which was quite good! We got a private little room with a round table all to ourselves. I had an excellent Tex-Mex salad with beans on top. The cilantro-lime vinaigrette was to die for. I loved the company of all those lovely gals. It’s funny, but I think I’ve hung out with Sam’s aunts/uncles/cousins more than my own these past few years. I feel really comfortable around all of them and they are so nice!

I can’t remember what Sam and I did after the dinner, so it must have been something normal. I do remember going down I-35 at night. I remember remarking how beautiful Austin was. Austin, the home of my heart. I can’t wait to live there again someday.

 

Thursday, 7/19

Sam’s last day of work before the long weekend! Yay! I did the usual gym-going thing and also had a meeting with the graduation coordinator of the program I’m interested in at UT. It was very interesting to meet with her and learn about my number one choice. Crossing fingers. Just gotta start working on the application.

For dinner we planned to meet Bree and eat at Bouldin Creek, one of my favorite restaurants. I was craving their famous tofu scramble. Bree met us at Sam’s condo. It was funny, because Sam has one long couch that she occupies and then two huge couch-chairs, one on the right and one on the left. I had been sitting in the chair on the right all week since it was next to Sam on the big couch. I noticed that Bree was sitting down on the left chair and said, “Did I steal your spot?” Because I knew that Bree came over to Sam’s pretty much every week to hang out. But Bree replied that no, she always sits in the chair on the left. I just thought that it was funny how I had chosen the “correct” spot so that everyone was in their usual place.

As we left to go to Bouldin creek, I got to see Bree’s new hybrid Civic. It was a few years newer than mine and it was pretty darn sexy. I could see where they changed things on the inside. Maybe someday I’ll get a hybrid version too (since I pretty much have converted to Honda-ism). But that won’t be for a while since I hope my current Civic has a long and happy life. Can’t wait to have my car back next year. Not looking forward to that drive from IL to TX again, but… Maybe I’ll have a parent with me again to share the driving. Anyways, I’ve gotten off track.

Back to Bouldin Creek.

It was just as I remembered. I got the same thing I usually get, the tamale breakfast with tofu scramble and some corn tortillas and veggies. Sam and Bree each got different kinds of omelets, which looked yummy as well. Our hungry stomachs were filled.

On the way home we stopped at Dominican Joe’s so I could get the best dessert of my life: Celeste’s Bakery Pumpkin Carrot Cake and a chocolate peanut butter cup. Let me say that again. Pumpkin. Carrot. Cake. I didn’t even know that such a heavenly thing like pumpkin carrot cake existed. But it does. And I can die happy now that I’ve partaken of this cake of the gods.

And then….. BATMAN! Sam and I went to the Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar for the midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises! The very last installment of the Christopher Nolan Batman movies… We were so excited! We put on our Batman shirts, left the house around 9:30pm, and waited in line.

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Some comic book store employees were there doing some promo stuff and were handing out prizes. Sam won a trivia game for being able to list all five Robins. It was pretty awesome.

I’m so glad we saw the movie at the Drafthouse. It was just… so… Austin. They played clips from the old Batman TV show and other miscellaneous Batman-related clips while we were waiting in the theatre. And the comic book store employees (in costume) came into our theatre to give out more prizes.

When the movie was about to start, a man dressed as Batman came to say…

“Now, ladies and gentlemen… A film by Christopher Nolan, starring Christian Bale and the cast of Inception.”

(Hahaha.)

 

Friday 7/20

Friday was a busy day for Sam, so I went off and did things by myself. I was so glad to be free of the GRE so that I could truly enjoy my free time without feeling guilty about not studying. I went to the gym and took myself to Beets Cafe for a spendy but beautifully-delicious lunch. It’s a raw food restaurant, so everything is fresh and plated to perfection.

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After lunch, I didn’t have that much time before volunteering at Casa de Luz, my favorite restaurant in Austin.

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Organic, macrobiotic, vegan, gluten-free… Menu changes daily. I like to volunteer in the kitchen before a meal. I used to volunteer there a lot more when I was unemployed in 2009/2010. Back then I went about 2 times a week. Food from there is like my kind of soul food. The menu that day was delicious, as always.

I volunteered, ate my “shift meal” dinner, talked with the staff, and then went on my way.

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One of the other customers eating at Casa overheard the host and I talking about how I lived in Japan. He was kind of a strange-looking guy, probably believed in all the conspiracies about the radiation/nuclear problem in Japan. But then he proceeded to tell me that I should move out of the country ASAP. He looked at me like I was crazy for wanting to stay another year. It kind of offended me. The entire country is not Chernobyl. The guy wrote down some info and some websites where I could find out “the truth” about the radiation.

However, I am here for another year because I have signed a contract. I live in Japan. I have a job and friends in Japan. This is where I will be until the next stage of my life begins in July 2013.

So that was a weird encounter.

I went to Whole Foods after that, just to shop around. Plus, I didn’t exactly want to go home to an empty condo quite yet. It was fun wandering around. Bought a few things to take home with me (like face wash and deodorant) and went home to hang out until Sam came home. She had the bridesmaid’s luncheon that day and then the rehearsal dinner in the evening. Busy, busy. I, on the other hand, did not do much else that night.

 

Saturday 7/20

The day of the wedding! The evening prior, I had lamented over the fact that I had not found a thing to wear. This was a nice wedding. And everyone else would be looking nice but me. However! Sam had found a dress of hers that would fit me well! And we went over to her dad and stepmom Kris’ place, in order to borrow some shoes.

Kris and I were the same size! Her shoes looked fabulous with the dress and extremely comfortable. No cuts, bruises, sores, etc for my feet that day! Needless to say, I felt much better when I looked more presentable for the wedding. Sam and I made quite a pair.

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After the borrowing of shoes from Kris, we drove to the Driskill Hotel. The very famous Driskill that has been around since the 1880’s.

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I’d always driven by it, but had never been inside. Never had a reason to, I guess. Sam and I drove up to the valet parking, got out of the Lexus like the classy ladies we were, and went up to the ballroom where Nina and Andrew were to be married. I sat near the bride’s family, a row behind Sam, with her dad and Kris. One person thought I was Kris’ daughter, haha.

The wedding was wonderful. The service was short, but extremely meaningful. That’s the best kind, I think. I began to get some ideas for my own wedding in the future, whenever that may be.

I got a large salad with candied pecans and balsamic vinaigrette from the buffet line. The rest looked lovely: eggs benedict, corn grits with shrimp, a quail dish, different kinds of baked breads, and another meat dish that I can’t remember. All very gormet! I sat with Sam’s family, cousins, and aunts. Everyone kept saying how nice it was that I had been able to attend the wedding, so I felt more than welcome. Smiles all around. :) We ate, talked, and had an overall good time.

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A funny/nice story: In Japan I have grown accustomed to tea after meals, so I went to one of the servers and asked if they had any tea available. They didn’t, so I said that was fine and began to walk away. But one of the servers went up to me and offered to procure me some tea if that’s what I really wanted. Ii said no, that was too much trouble. He insisted that it wasn’t, but I politely declined. A little while later, the same server came up to me and said, “If you still want that tea, there is a tea and coffee station in that room there.” It turned out that they had set up a lovely coffee and tea station with an awesome selection of teas. I think it was because of my request! That server was really sweet and I was really happy with my kuki-cha.

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After the wedding, Sam and I went home to chill out. It was late afternoon by then and we were pretty tired, so we just hung out on the couch. A few hours later, we went to Matt’s El Rancho tex-mex restaurant for dinner with the bride’s family. Nina and Andrew weren’t there (probably resting and packing for their honeymoon), but everyone else was. There were over 30 of us! Let’s just say that by 9:30pm, I was pretty beat.

Thank goodness for lazy Sundays.

 

Sunday 7/22

Sunday was the epitome of lazy. I borrowed the car to go to church and run around Town Lake, but I failed at both. I went to Austin Stone church held at the Austin High School building next to the hike and bike trails for convenience. I sat through two songs, but I just wasn’t feeling too good emotionally. I felt alone. Like a stranger. I was in a poor mood. So I left and went back home to the couch. Sigh. Bad me.

I watched stuff on Netflix (Veggie Tales, actually) until Sam got up. And then I think we watched Game of Thrones or something until I got too tired. My eyes were just tired! So I took a 2+ hour nap. Very lazy of me, I know.

I felt a little better when I woke up, so we went to Pei Wei for dinner. I know it seems silly to come from Asia to eat Asian food, but I love Pei Wei. Noelle took me to the one by her house in Fort Worth one time and I was hooked from there. I always go for the Spicy Korean with tofu, vegetables, brown rice, and light on the sauce. Delish! Here is a pic:

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Plus, I have fond memories of getting Pei Wei with Sam and her family. That and Chipotle.

While we were eating, we let Bree know that we would be home soon and free to hang out like we’d planned. On the way home from Pei Wei, we stopped by “Lick”, the new ice cream parlour on South Lamar. I had read about them online and their flavors did not disappoint. They had three dairy-free flavors, two vegan. I got the two vegan flavors, “Spicy Coconut and Peanut” and “Coconut, Peanut Butter and Chocolate Swirl” in a cup to go. It didn’t last long. Yum yum. Sam also got some for herself and Bree.

We three watched some movies. We started with The Polar Bear King, which was… Really bad. I don’t know how I ever watched it as a kid. I broke away to call my parents and grandmother. When I was done talking to them, the movie was still going. Wowza. But it ended soon thereafter and I was really sleepy at that point. So I called it a night and went to sleep while Bree and Sam watched another movie. I can usually fall asleep to anything (if I am tired enough), so it worked out just fine that they were watching stuff in the next room.

 

Monday 7/23

I don’t remember what time I woke up, but it was early. I woke Sam up around 8am so we could both finish getting ready for…

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SCHLITTERBAHN!

The world’s best waterpark!

Well, certainly America’s best—as they advertise. I hadn’t been since 2009 and Sam hadn’t been since way before that. High school or middle school, even.

We left the condo around 9 and went to HEB to pick up some snacks and our Schlitterbahn tickets (since HEB was selling them). Then we were on the road!

I-35 was pretty much cleared out by then, so it took no time at all to get to New Braunfels. We parked at the “old”/original park, got our wristbands, a locker for our valuables, and a bench/table to put our cooler on. We just left our cooler, food, and towels on the table in the open. Everyone else was doing it, so we figured it would be ok. I mean, who would steal our food and/or towels? It would be totally find in Japan, but America is a little iffy sometimes.

But anyways, we left the stuff there and took the shuttle bus to the newer part of the park, Blastenhoff.

Let the fun begin!

We forgot our ages and acted like we were teenagers again. Played and went around the giant circular wave pool. Waited an hour and a half in line to ride the Master Blaster.

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Totally worth it.

I also think the line was a really great opportunity to work on my tan. ^^ We also went down the kiddie slides on the pirate ship (head-first until we were told that it wasn’t allowed… oops.) I loved playing like a kid. After that we went on the new tube attraction, The Falls. That was so fun!

It was way past time for lunch when we finished with all that. Possibly past 2pm. So we bussed back to the old park to get back to our cooler for food.

I also made an important phone call during lunch. I had talked to my mom that morning, again about the Invisalign. And then I had mulled it over in my head. She really thought it was the right thing to do. After I ate lunch, I finally made the call to make that appointment. I would begin Invisalign this year. I made the appointment for Wednesday afternoon.

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After resting and digesting, we were back to having fun at the park. We went to Blastenhoff one last time to enjoy ourselves for a couple more hours. Pretty soon it was about 5pm.

Sam was exhausted after having spent most of the day in the sun. She also felt sunburned (which she was). I can be in the sun all day and still not get tired, but for fair-skinned people like her… the sun just saps energy. She had a snack and started driving us back to Austin. The traffic wasn’t bad since we were going the opposite way everyone else seemed to be going.

We stopped for dinner at Kerbey Lane Café on South Lamar. The new building was quite nice! I had a yummy salad and Sam got a sandwich with this tomato dipping sauce and sweet potato fries. She let me have a few. ^^

 

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I had eaten such a healthy dinner that I felt like I could stand to eat some dessert! We went to Mr. Natural, an all-vegetarian Mexican food joint that also happened to have an amazing bakery with tons of vegan and gluten-free options. I got a pumpkin empanada, a mini-cake-donut, and a red velvet cupcake. Can we say heaven? I don’t even have any pictures of these because they were too delicious to exist outside of my mouth/stomach.

We also ran to HEB to get Sam some aloe for the impending doom and pain of her horrible sunburn. It was pretty bad. I don’t think her sunscreen worked too well!

And thus ended our day at Schlitterbahn.

 

Tuesday 7/24

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For some reason, this day is mostly a blur. I can’t remember much of what went on.

I know I took Sam to work. I know I went to the gym.

I know I went to Luke’s Locker and bought a new pair of running shoes. I’d never been fitted for a pair of Asics before, so I figured I would give them a try this year.

I know I went to lunch at Casa de Luz.

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I know I went to the University of Texas Co-Op and looked for souvenirs for my Japanese co-workers. I mostly lusted after all the orange UT gear.

I know I did a trial-run of packing my suitcase.

But the rest of the details are a little fuzzy.

 

Wednesday 7/25

The day in which I am very stressed and constantly on the verge of tears! Yikes!

Got up, took Sam to work, went to LifeTime for the last time and savored every moment… after the gym, I did some serious shopping. And when I say serious, I mean serious. I hit up Academy, Target, Payless, DSW…

 

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By the time I had finished at those four, it was way past lunchtime and I was hungry. But I didn’t have time to sit down and eat somewhere (even though I wanted to), so I ran by the Barton Springs JuiceLand (formerly Daily Juice) to get a protein smoothie.

 

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The one I got was called The Wundershowzen… I seriously wish I could have that smoothie every day of my life. It was amazing. The ingredients were: spinach, banana, peanut butter, hemp protein, and rice milk. Can we say heaven?

The events that followed were not heaven, however.

I had some time before my orthodontist appointment, so I decided to head from JuiceLand to the mall so that I could go to a couple stores I had not managed to get to yet. Right as I am walking into the mall, I reach for my sunglasses case so that I could put my sunglasses away. It wasn’t there.

Some background about these sunglasses. These sunglasses are Maui Jims, my first pair of over-$200 sunglasses ever. Polarized and everything. I bought them before I went to Japan because I knew I would need them a lot, especially for the glare of the white snow. Over the past year I have been taking good care of them and making sure that if they are not on my head, they are in their special Maui Jim case.

So now that the case was missing, I panicked. I ran back to the car, searched there, and found nothing. I didn’t have a cell phone so I couldn’t just call JuiceLand to ask if they had seen a sunglasses case, so I had to drive all the way back to ask. Nothing there either. I stood outside JuiceLand for a few moments in a panic/shock and wracked my mind on where the case could possibly be. I know I was panicking way too much over a case. Unable to come up with any ideas, I dejectedly went back to the car. I searched the car again and found them hidden behind a box in the passenger seat. Great.

So I had found the case, but lost all that time. It was too late to go back to the mall before my appointment, so I gave up on the mall and went straight to the orthodontist.

Being at the orthodontist’s gave me something else to think about and helped me calm down, even though I was getting into a huge commitment with these Invisalign braces.

Of course I geeked out over the machine that scanned my teeth digitally. It was fun being there and I got to see how crooked my bite/jaw is! My teeth are straight—it’s the bite that is the problem. And it is slowly filing down my teeth and wearing down my enamel, yikes!

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After the orthodontist, I went up north to pick up Sam from work. I started really freaking out about leaving and tried to stay calm. From work we went down south to Elizabeth Street Café, a new-ish Vietnamese place. I’d never eaten Vietnamese before and there were a few vegan options, so I was looking forward to it.

We met Sam’s mom there and it was just the three of us. We all got cold noodle bowls and everything was so fresh and flavorful.

 

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After a lovely meal, we said goodbye to Liz. I almost teared up again!

From there we went over to Mr. Curtis and Kris’ apartment so that I could say goodbye to them as well.

Kris and I got to talking about how I felt about my trip. I told her everything had been amazing. The only thing was that I was feeling a little worried about not having purchased enough work clothes for the new year. As we were leaving, Kris surprised me by digging in her closet and gifting me an ARMFUL of old clothes that she no longer wanted. Many of these were work-appropriate button-down dress shirts! And a few other things that suited me perfectly! I was so happy. And relieved.

After we left, we went with Bree to Sweet Ritual again so that I could have vegan ice cream one… last… time.. The sundae I got was perfect. Graham cracker, banana, peanut butter soft serve, and extra marshmallows. I couldn’t have asked for better.

It got to be late and I was getting nervous about packing, so I needed to get home. I packed again (with my new hand-me-downs) and it just didn’t fit in my luggage. But I was able to borrow a little duffle-ish-type bag from Sam and that made everything okay. I was going to make it on the plane with everything!

As I was sitting there on the floor and preparing my bags for Japan, I had a thought. I missed my mom. For my 2005, 2006, 2007, AND 2011 trips to Japan… She had been there to help me. My mom is a master packer and organizer. And even though packing for a big trip is always a stressful time for me, it always helped to have her there.

My bags were messy and a lot of stuff were just thrown in, but at least everything was accounted for.

Whew.

 

Thursday 7/26

The day I left.

I got up early to get ready, but not insanely early. Just the right amount of early.

My flight was changed to a half and hour later, so we had a little more time. Sam drove me to the airport.

On the way there, Sam’s dad called to say hi and do a very fatherly thing for me. He asked about me and asked if I had any emergency cash. (I didn’t, since I came to the US with one dollar in my wallet, intending to just use credit cards the whole time.) He told Sam to give me a some money for emergencies. I accepted it gratefully and tucked it away in a secret compartment in my wallet. I was very touched. I never want to use that bill! I hope I can keep it as a memory for a long time.

I got through security fine and was grateful for the two free bags with international flights.

Flew through DFW and thought of Noelle as she was taking her Bar Exam.

As I walked to the international departure gates of DFW, it hit me that I was really leaving. I waited until the last minute to board that plane.

I was one of the last ones.

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And that was that. Now we have come full circle!

I sat down on the plane next to a Japanese guy, took out my notebook, and started writing this entry.

 

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7 Responses to “Come Back To Texas”

  1. I LOVE this! Reminds me of all the awesome fun we had. Come back soon! We can spend a whole day watching even more Game of Thrones XD.

  2. I really enjoyed reading about your Austin adventure (even though I live here, sometimes it’s good to see a new perspective–makes you appreciate what you take for granted). Thanks for sharing!

  3. Amazing! Brought tears to my eyes more than once! I miss you too! I want so much to come see you in the spring! But I know we will see you soon enough if I am unable. I know you are where you are supposed to be for this next year, saving money for grad school and living your life dream of working in Asia. I am so proud of you, my first daughter!

  4. Great blog Baby-kins. I have the pangs to return to Texas every minute of every day but the Lord will bring me back on his time not mine. In the meantime fight the good fight.

    Work hard on getting a job and pursuing your Masters when you get back BUT truly enjoy the time in Japan and you will look back at it and say WOW!

    Love, DDY

  5. I have just finished reading your Texas visit.It seems as if you ate your
    way through Austin.Had a good time reading it.Know it was tough to leave
    but the year will go fast and you have such nice friends.Glad you got the
    test out of the way.Sorry to tell you that I had to put Chris to sleep yesterday
    He had been going down hill ,had many things wrong and it was time
    11yrs old.A,J was here to be with me.Much love,Nana

  6. Appreciation to my father who told me on the topic
    of this weblog, this weblog is really remarkable.

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