I've been in Austin for nearly three weeks now but still trying to adjust to the daily grind, the urban lifestyle, and cycling hills!
While I'm now a bit further south of downtown (4-5 miles) than last year, I did find an affordable & comfortable spot in South Austin. The greatest benefit is the 15-minute commute to work, and easy access to all things Austin. My roommate, Juliana, is a grad student who is also always on task so a 900 square foot apartment share isn't an issue.
Work is taking up far too much time as I'm in the compound for 43 hours/week without phone, email or movement. That said, I'm adapting to the job of Data Transcriber after happily flunking out of the first department that's still using 30+ year old software. I've now landed in a much more cordial and up-to-date place while learning custom keyboarding, innumerable abbreviations, and possibly, the relevance of hourly quotas. Indeed, my curtain factory job at 16 has now been surpassed by this 21st century sweatshop. All that said, it's OK because it's a means to a glorious end -- 60 work days for another year of travel!
I've returned to both cycling groups, and to getting in trouble with Martha at home and in public. I'm also trying to get my French conversation skills back as I plot and plan my trip to Canada this summer. My commute is spent with an audio CD, some free-time with a textbook, and last weekend, I attended "French Afternoon" at the library. There was a game of Petanque (think French bocce ball), chocolate croissants, music, and a dictation contest that was a personal embarrassment! Once I improve, I plan to join a conversation group.
Much to my surprise, there is an avid French speaking community here, and the University is not the sole reason. As it turns out, France was one of the few nations to grant semi-official recognition of Texas as a Republic, and in 1841, they opened a legation that still stands in Austin. Yes, this is on my list of places to see this year!
So, a busy few weeks with much to enjoy by June, and much planning to do before I roll.
I was really settling into the Sebastian Inlet area while actively seeking a seasonal job so I could winter in Florida. I was going to free concerts, doing Ranger walks & meeting some locals. I'd even found an affordable room to rent near the beach, and had a few folks helping in my search for a $10/hour job, for at least 25 hours/week. I wasn't being fussy -- the supermarket, the local grille, the state park, Home Depot; I tried them all and yet, I could not get an offer.
So, when the IRS in Austin came through again, it was time to pack up the gear and head West, young woman! However, there was no lollygagging along the way, as this year the IRS gave me 8 days notice (vs 6 weeks) to report, and the travel was coupled with an urgent need to find a bed in one of the toughest housing markets in the country. I hit the road for the 1244 mile journey with a pit-stop in Biloxi, MS and Beaumont, TX. It was a push, while simultaneously talking & texting with potential roommates.
Obviously, I made it and arrived last Sunday to a warm welcome from Martha & Annika; found a great rental share in South Austin on Monday; biked & unpacked on Tuesday, then headed to work the next morning. It actually feels like old home week here in Austin right now! Details on home, work and life coming soon!
Cyclist, writer, teacher, avid reader, bike/ped advocate, nomad, pie lover