Friday, August 22, 2008

what i like about you.

I have been in Austin for two full weeks now. A friend asked me what my three favorite things about Austin are so far, and in that spirit, I decided to make a list. But I can sum up my impression in a couple of sentences. I've noticed that pervasive in the culture here is an overall creative spirit, a general friendliness and a laid back attitude. I've been excited to come across so many people in Austin who have successfully made their way by pursuing their own passions and arts - after all, it's still Texas, and that means there is an "I can kick your ass and make my own way" attitude.

If that doesn't say enough about the city, here are a few particulars I've picked up on.

1. Dog friendliness. This city is swarming with cafes and shops that welcome pet owners and their hounds of all sizes. Most rental listings for houses, apartments and condos, explicitly announce, “Pets welcome.”

2. Swimming holes. It’s true that I haven’t been swimming yet. But I am excited just knowing that I have countless options – Barton Springs, Stacy Pool, Lake Travis. I know there are even more, and most of these are spring fed water wonders.

3. The radio. Austin touts itself as the “live music capital of the world.” But what I’m noticing is this: Shops, restaurants and coffee shops all pipe in astoundingly better music than any place I frequented in Baton Rouge. It makes the whole experience of being in a place so much better. Even the local NPR affiliate plays good music. Not that smooth jazz crap you hear in BR on NPR.

4. The presence of sidewalks, crosswalks, cross signals and bike lanes go to good use – it pays to be bike and pedestrian friendly. There are cyclists everywhere and pedestrians all over.

5. Local retail. I can barely stop myself from stumbling across locally owned and operated restaurants and boutiques and groceries. I’ll let you know how the farmers market is after I’ve visited.

6. Cowboy boots. On people’s feet. People’s feet of all ages and sexes and fashion sensibilities.

7. Good vintage and thrift stores selling some really well cared for, well-presented stuff, including great clothes and furniture.

8. Live music. So I haven’t been out to hear any music, but I already know from looking online, at the local free weekly and from listening to the NPR affiliate that when I do have a night out, all I have to do is throw a stone, and I’ll find a good to decent band playing.

9. A new topography. There are hills. Very pretty hills. And even though the two times I’ve been out running and the one time I had to trek to San Marcos’s campus, I was cursing the hills, I’m pretty ecstatic about the change.

10. Mass transit. I won’t have to drive 30 miles south to San Marcos. I’m taking the shuttle down. It’s got wi-fi.

11. Amy's ice cream. Because it tastes so ridiculously fattening, and because I don't get overwhelmed trying to choose from a million different flavors. There are just 10 or so, and that works much better for me.

12. Style. People in Austin wear their personalities. I've seen such a vast array of styles - some I like, others I don't. But it makes me feel like I've stepped out of a black and white movie into a color flick. I'm excited about dressing myself in the coming years.

13. Even though I’m not in Baton Rouge, and even though I’m told that the summer has been particularly hot and dry, I’ve experienced some really wonderful rainstorms. I’m watching one out of my window at this very moment. And, maybe that is what I’m most thankful for just now.

I'm happy to be here in Austin, TX.

SONG: What I Like About You, The Romantics

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