living in austin again is really weird. i know it’s always weird to go back to the town you grew up in, but seeing’s how it’s austin, i think it’s doubly weird.

austin was on a decline even when we lived there. it seems to be stuck in the 50s, and every new, shiny thing that comes along really sticks out like a sore thumb. because of that, i realize that people who’ve never lived there are going to bash it. i’ll defend it…but only half-heartedly. yes, austin is that bad.

the only redeeming, charming quality about the town, a mcdonald’s circa 1950 itself, was torn down and replaced by a newly remodeled version. but that seems to be its only new thing in the town proper…even the target, which was built after we moved away, is in dire need of remodeling.

then when i drive through the town, i can point out and remember places that i frequented when i was young…and they aren’t there. people too. aunt mary’s gone, squire’s gone. the empty shells of their houses remain. the place where my aunt kathleen bought me a perm is defunct, as is the place where i got my ears pierced.

i drive past the place where the red owl used to be, and the tiny strip mall that also housed the liquor store my mom took me to, where i dipped my hand in the cold water of the liquid cooler next to the check-out counter, and they’re no longer there – nothing but grass.

harry’s cafe, where my aunt colettie and uncle squire would take us for breakfast on sundays? empty. the bakery where we would stop for doughnuts and long johns on our way to todd park on saturdays, an almost religious ritual? nothing but a derelict building alongside an equally run-down road. even jerry’s other place, which had survived long past our move, is now closed.

kentucky fried chicken? gone. no longer is the building where both my parents stopped one evening, separately, to pick up supper – an odd and expensive treat for a poor family of 6. the weird gas station home across the street, of course, is still there, except i think it’s a car dealership now.

drive out to the mall, and there’s a new super walmart, fancy shops lining the opposite side of the street – a caribou, a gas station, maurices, a couple fast food places. but venture to the mall itself, and it’s so empty you could hear a dime drop from the opposite side. it’s a weird day when shopko (the bastion of slow, uncrowded shoppers everywhere) is the busiest place in the complex.

the worst, of course, is driving past the old homestead and not recognizing it at all. i wandered around my cousins’ place (they bought the land after we moved, burned the house down, and built a huge place), and it took me all i could do to recognize the large oak tree that was the main focus of all our playing while growing up. trees have grown up, grass has filled in, others have been cut down, rearranged, replaced.

but the tree remains. running my fingers along its bumply trunk, wondering how old it actually was, i realized that i was no long an austinite, but i will hold on to what i can. i will defend. and i will recognize that tree.

on being silent (or, a list for my cousin sam to emulate)

my derry family reunion is this weekend, and it’s the only vacation i get this summer due to new job. needless to say, i’m pretty excited about it – the lake, the people, the fun. we all need more laughing in our lives, right?

i’ve been to every derry reunion. i’m really the only cousin who can claim that since i was born the first year the reunion was conceived. and there were some things i learned as i grew up alongside the reunion. some things from which certain cousins of mine would definitely benefit.

1. hush it up. if your (then) 3-year-old cousin molly falls off the top bunk, get her to quiet down as quickly as possible. if you’re the oldest one there, you’re going to be blamed.

2. if you’re 7 years old with a side of family who you don’t really know that well and you fart in a room full of said family, don’t own up to the fart. just let them accuse each other. it keeps you from being ridiculed for farting and puts on a show as well.

3. there’s something to be said for nor standing up for a cousin, especially when it means taking your husband’s side instead. sorry, sometimes blood doesn’t come first.

4. sometimes, but only sometimes, it is worth it to speak up with a much needed “this is ridiculous” when an uncle needs to stop beating a dead horse.

5. and above all, silence is golden. if you are at the nightly bonfire and you don’t say much, people (especially if they’re drinking) will not notice you’re there. you can learn a lot, see a lot, hear a lot. plus you get to stay up hours after all your other cousins and siblings have gone to bed. sometimes being in the shadows can be a good thing.


i went through all the stuff in my filing cabinet yesterday and got rid of like half of the stuff in there. i was going through my student loan documents, and i had a lot of forbearances when i first got out of st. ben’s.

well, really. i was working for $7/hr at a newspaper when csb pretty much said, YEAH! you’ll get an AWESOME JOB right AWAY! YEAH! uh, no. i applied for a deferment, but the cutoff for that was such that we’re talking a difference of $10. TEN DOLLARS. really??? so, i had a lot of forbearances in 2001-2003. and if i remember correctly, some of my reason for going back to school was to get my payments deferred (crappy reason, but you do what you can).

if there’s one thing i wish i could have st. ben’s do, is tell them to tell their students that no, an awesome job is not guaranteed right out of graduation. i’m glad i’m making the big bucks now, but those first few years sucked.


write about the last time you were overwhelmed.

despite being a little overwhelmed now due to the house situation, im not that overwhelmed. but when i worked at merrill, i felt like i was overwhelmed all the time, especially after my hours got changed. the work that needed to be done was so deadline driven that everything needed to be done that day, and if it didn’t? too bad so sad. so, new job time!


who do you trust?

when i lived with the gays, i asked kurt once who he could count on to pull through for him. i asked because i was beginning to not like the gays. so i thought about me: my family and my cats were what i could count on 100%. family to do anything and cats to be exceptionally cute and unconditional.


i’m going to do the one-minute writer.

today’s writing prompt: happy. what is making you happy today?

today what’s making me happy is the fact that i’m starting to look for places to live in the area. i think it took nate 15 minutes of having sophie ignore him over the 4th for him to say a big “YEA” to looking for a place. tonight i’m going to look at a place in stewartville and tomorrow, who knows. it’ll be good.


1. i just read a “get more interaction from your blog” blog. it said lists are one way of getting more response. ok!

2. vacay is in less than two weeks! woo!

3. nate gave the go-ahead for looking for an apt. here. i’m off to stewartville after work to write some phone #s.

4. i drove home from roch on friday, and the temp dropped 30ΒΊ over the course of 170 miles. weatherdude says that’s not unusual for winter, but it is for summer. #climatechange,losers.doyougetit?

5. and because this is a list, here’s an even #. i’ve nothing says list like a good ol’ 5.