The title is not meant to sound negative. In a way, its what Austin really is. This entire city is a contradiction in my mind, and that seems to be the way I operate. On contradictions. Oh, and, by the way, I am living in Austin, TX now. Should it not have been for my friend, Sumiko, beginning her Castellano blog, I probably wouldn’t have thought to update this.
Contradictions of Austin:
- Texas, but liberal
- America, but I hear more Spanish here than living in Spain
- Texas, but lots of tech jobs
- Bigger (everything’s bigger in Texas), yet somehow smaller and dense
- Sidewalk cafes… but on 5-lane roads.
- A music scene… but not country
- An art scene… but not country bumpkin
- Texas, but without the heavy accent
- Bush came from this town, yet it seems everybody here hates him
- Strip malls everywhere, but small business is valued highly
- A lively downtown scene, nobody lives downtown
- Football is bigger here than any other city I’ve lived in, yet there’s no NFL team
- Freaking hot in the summer, but green trees and foliage everywhere
- Good job market, high incomes, but low cost of living and no income tax
- Hardly visible on a map, yet one of my favorite places on Earth
“It was like I’ve always lived in this mess.” — A quote from L’Auberge Espagnole. The chaos and contradictions of this place are what make me feel completely at home. Nothing seems to make sense, and yet, for exactly that reason, it does.
Sometimes I find it amazing how little Texans know about how their state is generally viewed by the North. I’d say it gets about as much of a bad rep as, say, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Kansas. Oh, and if you are from any of those states and don’t think you are the source of many jokes… you are. I’m not out to offend anybody, after all I am from Ohio and I get my fair share of being made fun of. Stereotypes of cornfields and farmland as far as the eye can see – though true for western Ohio is hardly at all like the northeast. The same goes for Texas. What applies to Dallas, Houston, Amarillo, Lubbock, and the boonies and desert does not apply to Austin. Yet, for many of us northerns, the sound of “Texas” makes us cringe. I’m not quite sure why we react that way, but we do.
On the plus side, that same cringe effect is what keeps Austin from blowing up with a heavy northern population and losing its special Austin-ness. Austinites, cherish the fact that you are a blue oasis in a sea of red desert. That desert can be very scary and impenetrable by many, keeping your city population at a manageable size.
So why did I move here? Simple – AMD flew my down for a job interview. I got to see the city, and quickly became less afraid of the possibility of moving here. I saw the contradictions immediately, and that is what brought my immediate attraction. I accepted the job sometime last year, probably in November, and now I am here after a chaotic end at RIT, study abroad in Spain, temporary move back to Ohio, and temporary job as a wedding photographer.
AMD is an amazing company to work for. It is growing so quickly, that at times I wonder if it’s going to be able to handle itself. I’m pretty confident, though, as our upper management is quite amazing in my opinion, and I’m certain they know what they are doing. I love having a job for a company that is constantly in business news, on geek websites like digg.com and slashdot.org. We are doing amazing things at AMD, and I doubt that the company will ever stop impressing me.
With a good company comes good people. I look up to so many people that I work with on a regular basis. Whether they be managers or co-workers or co-ops. The simple quality of people that end up here is outstanding. It is also one of the most diverse environments I’ve ever been in. My mentor is Mexican. My upper-manager is Korean. We have so many Asians, Indians, South Americans, and Europeans working for us … not just globally, but right here in Austin. This diversity is something that I never really got working at Harris or ProQuest. Anybody who knows me even slightly well knows how much I value different cultures.
Though this may not be L’Auberge Espagnole, it is still rather ideal. I’m living here with my friend from RIT, Ed. He’s a pretty chill guy, unless he’s hungry or anxious to leave somewhere. Then it’s like trying to control a 5 year old who wants to go to the ice-cream store. He’s quite aware of this, and now I just take it as quite amusing, where initially it was rather annoying. We each have our own quirks, and I’m sure it took him some time (and continues to) get used to me.
Overall, we work things out pretty well. The apartment is furnished and decorated quite nicely, and we are both very happy with how it turned out. Much of our furniture came from this guy named Joe who we found on Craigslist. He wholesales furniture from a little warehouse he has up north, but all of it is name-brand stuff at nearly half of the cost of anywhere else. For the small amount of money we spent, our apartment looks almost like a Crate & Barrel catalog showroom. I’m sure the folks at C&B would highly disagree. That’s fine, they can continue to overcharge for their particleboard yuppie furniture while I get it for cheap.
The apartment brings a perfect blend of city-living and country feeling. The entrance to our apartment is on one of the busiest and coolest streets in Austin. Our apartment, however, feels like a tree house. We are at ground-level on the backside, so we have no stairs to climb, but as the apartment is on a slope, the back side with all of the windows is up 1 level, and is completely surrounded by trees which come right up to the balcony and windows. From the dining room, living room, and kitchen, all you can see are trees. At night, I hear crickets and frogs – not sirens, gunshots, and subwoofers. Downtown is a 25 minute walk away.
I live on South Congress avenue. I basically picked the neighborhood never having seen it by describing the things I liked about Park Ave in Rochester to some rental agents down here. Sidewalk cafe’s, cool and diverse restaurants, some art stores and cool shopping, young professionals, etc. I was told by 3 sources “oh then you’re looking for SoCo”. How could you turn down a name like SoCo, anyways? It sounds like SoHo but it is also the name of a Louisiana Whiskey.
Why is it called South Congress Ave? When you drive north on it, you are driving right into the State Capitol Building. It is quite a view, actually. You see all of the shops, followed by the S. Congress bridge over Town Lake (where 1.5 million bats call home over the summer), and the downtown skyscrapers forming two walls on the right and left of the avenue. Dead-centered at the end of the corridor is the massive Capitol building in all of its Everything’s-Bigger-In-Texas glory. That is my view on my drive home from work every day. That is why I live in SoCo.
There is so much more I can write about, but that is going to have to come with time. One of my problems with blog-writing is that I get so backed up with things to write about, that I feel I have to tackle everything in the queue first before I can write about the thing I’m thinking of at the moment. The sad part of it is, once I do an update like this, I’ll probably never write about, say, my extended trip to Paris, or my experience doing wedding photography for my friends KC and Andie. You’re not going to hear about Austin City Limits, either. If I don’t write about it the day or week of, its simply not going to happen ever. I wish this could be more complete, but that’s just not going to happen. So it goes.