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)
Flightpath

If you’re meeting a friend:
Cafe Medici (on Guad)
Mozart’s
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:
SummermoonIMG_20131104_235251
Vintage Heart
Seventh Flag
Dominican Joe
Monkey Nest
Cafe Medici
Cherrywood
Mozart’s
Houndstooth

If you want to eat and sit on your laptop at the same time:
Monkey Nest
Dominican Joe
Cenote
Cherrywood
Pacha
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
Cenote
Houndstooth
Mozart’s
Juan Pelota’s

Not my favorite:
Flightpath
LaTazzaFresca
Spiderhouse
Pacha
The Hideout
Genuine Jo

Still want to try:
Brew and Brew
Fair Bean Coffee
Alta’s

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. 

Friendship

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.
 
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Why I Love Texas: Part 2`

5) Texas Waffles. A few weekends ago I was accused of having too much Texas pride. But what other state forces their hotel/motel guests to eat waffles in the shape of their state every morning?? (I googled it – there are other state-shaped waffles, but they don’t look nearly as appetizing). 

photo 1

Photo taken by Tiffany during breakfast at an average motel

6) Long Drives – Driving to and from anywhere in Texas takes a while, but I love long drives. If I’m by myself I listen to Ariana Grande and sometimes NPR or sometimes I sit in silence. If I’m with people we listen to Ariana Grande and sometimes NPR and sometimes we sit in silence. 

20140704_145431

On the road to Amarillo, the longest Texas drive I’ve been on so far

7) Petrichor – It rains occasionally in Texas. After the last final exam of my undergraduate career I walked outside and it smelled like rain. 

8) Sunshine. I don’t mind the heat. Sometimes at work this other girl and I like to work outside. One time the others walked by and said ‘How are you out here??’  I also like to wear dresses in the summer but I recently donated a lot of them in my attempt to be a minimalist. 

Thoughts on the cell phone

For the past two weeks I’ve repeatedly tried to find an excuse to get rid of my phone so that I could A) justify my need to get a new one, and B) have a blame-free reason for not answering text messages and phone calls. My phone woes were documented obnoxiously all over my various social media outlets, but even after a spotty keyboard, nonexistent battery life, and even a lake – my phone endured, and I was only truly phone-less for about 24 hours. It’s functioning at about half-capacity, but still functioning – which means it’s here to stay for a while.

My phone is frustratingly resilient, and those who spend any time with me hear me complain about it at least once an hour. But despite the exhilarating freedom I felt the couple of times that I believed it had actually died, I found myself adopting a nervous twitch in its absence, habitually reaching for it whenever there was a moment of stillness – stopping at a traffic light, standing in line for the bathroom, waiting for a page to load. 

Like I had to fill the space or something. It reminded me of that Louis CK rant I’ve seen all over the internet, where he talks about how cell phones can take away our ability to simple be by ourselves, because we’re terrified of being alone for even a second. It was kind of poetic and a little sad – and there’s this temptation to toss my phone back into the lake and live life embracing that profound alone-ness. But it would be the opposite of profound to do that just because I heard something on YouTube that sounded the slightest bit existential. That being said, I really like Louis CK. And he’s right – people often never feel completely sad or completely happy, ‘You just kind of feel satisfied with your products. And then you die.”

I expected a lot of life’s noise to be filtered out when I didn’t have my phone, but (maybe not so) surprisingly, my life was still filled with a lot of noise. Can’t really blame the phone. 

And I don’t know why I hate my phone so much anyway. As I was recently reminded, my phone translated the Word to people in their own language, and they were able to hear and read stories of Jesus for the first time ever. God uses the least of us.