A Guide to Austin Traffic

My job requires a lot of driving around to different parts of Austin. I came up with this helpful guide to remind me when there is/is not traffic on Mopac or I-35.

*I’ve only listed times that I have personally experienced driving on these highways. There is potentially more traffic than when is listed below. Actually, there is definitely more traffic than what is listed below. 
*These traffic times are subject to change by Spring 2015, supposedly

Mopac on a weekday

8AM-Southbound: Traffic
2:30PM-Northbound: No traffic :)
5:30PM-Northbound: Traffic
5:30PM -Southbound: TRAFFIC. VERY BAD.
7PM-Northbound: Traffic.
11PM-Northbound: TRAFFIC!!!!??
4:30AM-Northbound: No traffic :)

Helpful Tip: Sunday-8:30PM-Northbound: TRAFFIC. STOP AND GO TRAFFIC.

I-35 on a weekday

12PM-Southbound: Traffic.
3PM-Southbound: Traffic.
5PM-Southbound: TRAFFIC!!!!!
5PM-Northbound: TRAFFIC!!!!!!
8PM-Northbound: TRAFFIC!!!!!!!


Other Tips:

- Listen to NPR hit music stations because luckily Shake it Off will never not be catchy
- Do not tweet about traffic while you are sitting in traffic, unless you enjoy braking suddenly
- Buy T.S. 1989 to listen to while in traffic (I need to do this ASAP)
- Rain = Traffic
- Dance to Shake it Off
Always have snacks (healthy snacks, if you’re in to that, like an apple or something)
- If you bring said apple, make sure you have a place to put the core when you’re done
- DON’T just toss said apple core out the window. I did that once, and even though it landed in grass and probably decomposed, I still live with the guilt


I hope this was helpful. I have more ‘Learning Curve’ posts coming up, but I needed to share my Austin traffic knowledge first.

Learning Curve Part 1: Service

Despite the fact that I live in the same city, this past month has been a steep learning curve and a whirlwind of transitions. When I started writing this post I was listening to the sound of rain falling on the pavement and coffee brewing – and I had some really insightful thoughts. But now it’s a day later and it’s a Monday no less and the sun has set and somehow I’m still working and I definitely have no more original thoughts left in my brain –  so instead I’m going to just summarize this great article I read. And I’m writing this all while listening to 5 Seconds of Summer on repeat, so yeah.

(This article will be helpful to read if you have ever volunteered at a soup kitchen, are a volunteer with a kids ministry,  are a social work major, think about giving money to the homeless people on the street, go on mission trips, want to save the world, or if you happen to be an AmeriCorps member with an education nonprofit, like me.)

I’m surprised long work hours haven’t killed me yet, but I guess it’s because I’m surrounded by my two favorite types of people – students/youth who are inspiring and funny, and kindred spirits who are wired the same way as me and are passionate about youth empowerment and education.

In this line of work there’s a lot of joy and inspiration and warm fuzzies – also some anger and some heartache and some tears. Those things are a pretty obvious part of the work, but there are some things under the surface that are kind of left unsaid and a lot of questions that are seldom asked . One very questionable thing that I’ve been wondering a lot about lately is service (a term that I don’t particularly like, but will do in this discussion).

serv·ice; ˈsərvəs/: the action of helping or doing work for someone:

“It’s not, we’re told, about the money”

I laughed when I read this. I pictured some bright-eyed recent college-grad (not me?) patting herself on the back – ‘It’s not about the money!’ If it’s not about the money, then what’s it about? Helping other people?

Adam Davis summarizes the main reasons why people choose to give their lives to ‘service’:

1. We are all God’s children; by serving others we serve God
2. We are all children of the earth; there’s a principle of commonality
3. We identify with others, (I see you suffering and can’t help but imagine myself suffering)
4. We win praise by serving others- it earns me a good reputation
5. Guilt – “please let me serve you, perhaps I will suck somewhat less”

Why help people?

Somehow while writing this I’ve switched to listening to Sam Smith on repeat (this is more acceptable I think?) and I am becoming incredibly introspective and sad.

Service/helping people and the motivations behind it are incredibly complicated. The effects of service include much more than the act itself – and the questions you can ask about service are endless (Adam Davis came up with these, not me.):

Could the act of service be demeaning to the served? Does it matter, as long as the service is provided and the served receives what he/she needs?

Why is service good? Is it because of the aid it brings to those served? Are there act of service that make both the server and the served feel good but don’t necessarily have any external good? And if so, is that service still good?

Do some acts of service entrench and even extend the very gap they mean to bridge?

Ugliness in all

Anyone who knows me well enough (namely my mother) knows that I’ve always had a tendency to associate with reason #5 (Guilt) and sometimes #3 (Pride). Learning to serve others has been a long battle of wanting to love people, but knowing deep down that my true motivations are either A) so I can live with myself and sleep at night or B) so that my life accomplishments match the glamorous endeavors that will eventually go into the book I will write about my life.

“I serve you because I want to, I choose to, you receive my service because you have to, you need it. I live in the realm of freedom, you live in the realm of necessity.  By serving you, I confirm my relative superiority. By being served, you confirm your inferiority. By my apparent act of humility, I raise myself up. The happiness, Nietzsche says, of slight superiority.”

When guilt and pride are your primary motivations, the good of the server remains primary, and the good of the served is secondary. Disclaimer: I am extremely proud of the organization I am a part of, and all the work that we do for students. That being said, if the questions listed above are never asked – we risk doing more harm than good. No one has perfect motivations, and no one should pretend to.

Beneficence vs. Nonmaleficence

Doing more harm than good is the last thing anyone wants, but is it better to do nothing?

The idea behind service is to move the way things are toward the way they ought to be.Some (perhaps all?) service activity might be both good and bad.

What am I trying to get at here? I really don’t know. At this point, I’ve switched back to listening to 5 Seconds of Summer. My brain hurts.


- Read this article
- Love my job. Love working with students.
- Is serving others always good? How do we serve others well?
- 5 Seconds of Summer > Sam Smith??

10 books that influenced me

*was tagged on Facebook by Sharon, but FB gives me anxiety so I’d rather do this here. 

  1. Searching for God Knows What (Donald Milller) taught me about knowing and loving the person of Jesus, not just ministry and structures.
  2. The Book Thief (Marcus Zusak) makes me think about people and humanity and friendship and family.
  3. When Helping Hurts (Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert) made me realize that loving others cannot be about myself
  4. Bird by Bird (Anne Lamott) makes me laugh and love to write
  5. How to Survive in Your Native Land (James Herndon) got me through a year of teaching 4th graders.
  6. Antigone (Sophocles) is not really a book, but made me think a lot about feminism and gender roles.
  7. Looking for Alaska (John Green) made me want to fight to get out of a labyrinth of monotony
  8. These Happy Golden Years (Laura Ingalls Wilder) is one of my favorite love stories.
  9. Radical (David Platt) made me think about what it looks like to really follow Jesus
  10. Handle With Care (Jodi Picoult) made me think about motherhood and what is fair in life

I’m not very well-read (if you couldn’t already tell, this list makes it very apparent). Book suggestions?

Want to Read:
- Half the Sky
- Behind the Beautiful Forevers
- The Art of Fielding

UPDATED Austin Coffeeshop Guide

Hopefully this list is helpful to someone (since my last list probably wasn’t). Note: I tried not to include places that would be considered cafès. 

If you want to study (like, actually study):20130604_125044
Monkey Nest 
Dominican Jo
Bennu (24/7)
Epoch (24/7)
Strange Brew (24/7)

If you’re meeting a friend:
Cafe Medici (on Guad)
Cherrywood (not during the summer)
Cenote (not during the summer)
Thunderbird (on Manor)
Dominican Joe
Monkey Nest
Once Over (not during the summer)

If you’re reading/journaling/being introspective by yourself or with a friend:
Vintage Heart
Seventh Flag
Dominican Joe
Monkey Nest
Cafe Medici

If you want to eat and sit on your laptop at the same time:
Monkey Nest
Dominican Joe
Thunderbird (on Koenig)

If you just want a good Instagram picture:2014-08-27 12.52.08
Flat Track
Jo’s Coffee
Vintage Heart
Cafe Medici
Seventh Flag
Juan Pelota’s

Not my favorite:
The Hideout
Genuine Jo

Still want to try:
Brew and Brew
Fair Bean Coffee

Any suggestions?

PS: I am not an expert. These suggestions are based off of….my opinion. Which doesn’t say much.

PPS (PSS?): Here’s a picture of me coming one step closer to my dream of owning a coffeeshop LOL

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Giraffe in a Field of Zebras

Last month I listened to a guy talk about unicycles at a conference. He showed us this documentary he made about a unicycle program he started at different elementary schools in Austin. There was a third grade girl in the video who described how learning to ride a unicycle has impacted her life.

“Whenever I ride my unicycle, I feel free. It’s like being a giraffe in a field of zebras. At first you’re worried about what everyone is thinking about you, but then you don’t care.”

A giraffe in a field of zebras. The documentary was pretty inspiring. Too bad I can’t even ride a bike.

Two weeks ago I had an interview for a position with a homeless shelter, and the best way I can think to describe it now would be ‘giraffe in a field of zebras’. Maybe, ‘giraffe tries to be inconspicuous in a field of zebras.’ Or ‘giraffe has a slight panic attack’

I saw the crowd of people in front of the shelter before I even found a place to park. As I got out of the car and started walking towards the crowd why did I decide to wear heels a guy started approaching me. ‘Excuse me’ he said, what does he want why am I wearing heels should I just pretend I didn’t hear him  ‘Do you have change for the meter?’ Oh oops why do I always jump to conclusions ‘Sorry, I don’t.’ 

The guy at the desk told me to wait for the lady to come get me for the interview. I looked around and there was nowhere to sit, so I moved to stand near the side of the room but as I took a step I heard the clunk of my heels on the floor oh my god why am I wearing heels and decided to stay where I was. So I stood stiffly in the silence with a smile plastered on my face, feeling/imagining the stares of the dozens of people looking up at me from their chairs. 

I heard a voice say Dang lady, what you looking so good for? but I focused on being stiff and finally after what felt like an eternity (but was actually five minutes) the lady came and led me up the aluminum staircase in the center of the room. We walked up the staircase and my heels clanked on every step why did I decide to wear heels. During the interview we talked about effecting change and advocating for justice and I thought about the loud staircase and my feet which were starting to hurt in the heels. 

Anyway, the place ended up offering me a position, but I opted for a different one – one that I’m more excited about. Different in a lot of ways, but now that I think about it – similar in a lot of ways too. Two weeks has passed since that time when my heels were clanking up those stairs, and I’m determined to figure out what this whole giraffe/zebra mess means and I’ve resolved not to stand stiffly in the center of the room but sit down and make friends – because people are people. No more heels though. 

I’m excited about this year. I really am. Also, an update on my summer goals: 

Blog Regularly. Lol. I’m trying to churn out as many posts as I can now, because after next week they are sure to cease for a while. 
Wear sunscreen. Yes I did.
Always say ‘Hi’. Lol I tried. 
Figure out my favorite flower. Daisies! I have lots of fake daisies in my room.
Train myself to like non-teenpop music. This didn’t happen. Taylor Swift’s Shake it Off has been on repeat since it came out.
Declutter my life. Getting there. 


It’s hard to say when friendships begin. I wonder if it’s possible to pinpoint a specific moment in time – when a conversation over lunch shifts from being the backbone of the friendship to being just an element of a larger experience. Maybe there aren’t specific moments. Maybe it takes nothing more than increased proximity or gradual realization of affinity or just an accumulation of shared cups of coffee.
 Summer is finally drawing to an end. No matter the year, I’ve come to expect three things from a Texas summer: the suffocating heat of the relentless Texas sunshine, the invariable attempt and failure of ‘finding yourself’, and a shift in friendships. This summer did not disappoint. 
This summer was the stuff of the last autograph page in highschool yearbooks – urgently reminiscent and stubbornly carefree. I already wonder if it’ll hold its weight when measured against all the other summers, but it was no more trivial than musing over problems without ever trying to affect change change, no more self-absorbed than productivity for the sake of self-satisfaction. 
I don’t know if there’s a word that means the opposite of feeling lonely, but if there was, that’s how I would describe friendship. An elusively indefinable, yet surprisingly tenacious word that conjures up images of sipping coffee on the patio, re-watching Portlandia episodes, driving down a Texas road in the rain, and sprawling on a blanket on a hillside as fireworks light up the sky.
I don’t think anyone really has all the words (I know I don’t) and that’s perfectly alright. Summer is almost over, but it’ll come again.