Don’t Mess with Texas!

I was sorry to be MIA here on Monday – the schedule this week went off the rails into the great abyss of move preparation. We’re within three days of moving. We’re not overwhelmed, since we’ve been going at a pretty good pace, but each remaining moment will definitely count toward getting everything packed up and squared away.

I wanted to give a huge, hearty shout-out and “thank you” to Texas for being fantastic! When we got here we couldn’t predict we’d cut our one-year-then-we’ll-see plan short and only stay four months, but we did what we wanted to do… we went with the flow and enjoyed Texas while we were here. We spent the four months of summer in exactly the right place, and it proved to be an amazing time.

 

A little keychain souvenir

A little keychain souvenir

 

Texas is great for many reasons. Here are just a few highlights, things we especially appreciate:

–The people here are friendly, warm and big-hearted. They have an easy way of making one feel at home, and they’re genuine people. Good people. In three words, Texans are awesome.

–The service everywhere is outstanding. Texans know hospitality!

–It’s easy to live here… the cost of living (in Austin, anyway) is very reasonable.

–We’ve had nothing but solid, good experiences with the public transportation system here. There’s a convenient network of buses that take you everywhere you want to go, which includes buses that run late at night. Also, we’ve noticed that the freeways here are never too jammed (compared to, say, California).

–Austin is a good time! It’s interesting just by virtue of the fact that it’s the state capitol. There’s the capitol, itself, and there are many museums to explore.

–We’ll never forget the bats under the bridge, and with the Colorado River here in town and our fossil-hunting family adventure up north by Dallas and the countryside in between, we got to enjoy some sides of nature we’ve never seen before.

 

And the t-shirt, of course

And the t-shirt, of course

 

So the next few days will flash by, and then, like the Ingalls’, we’ll pack up our covered wagon (well, a U-Haul trailer attached to the back of our truck) and head west.

Happy Trails, y’all!

 

How to Spend an Evening in Rome

This little Sesame Street Bert doll moved into the apartment with us and sat in our linen closet up until yesterday.

 

The Bert for Kitof.

The Bert for Kitof.

 

I do remember when Callaghan found it at the store, soon after we got back to the States, but a lot has happened since then. Over time, it just became a part of the interior landscape of the closet… I’d see it without really seeing it. It was like ET amongst the stuffed animals. So when it reappeared in the room yesterday, I needed a reminder: it was for one of Callaghan’s French friends, Kitof, who’s in Texas this week with his wife and daughter. We met them downtown late yesterday afternoon for Congress Avenue Bridge bat-viewing and dinner at Hut’s Hamburgers. (Their vegan veggie burgers are fantastic, by the way!)

“So what’s the story behind Bert, again?” I asked Callaghan as I was sitting at my desk. He’d told me once, like three years ago, which is evidently past the expiration date on the part of my memory that stores that sort of information.

“The story behind Bert? Oh, well!” He heightened his voice with a grand flourish. “It’s because Kitof and I were fans of Ernie and Bert when we were kids, so we really like them… and it does happen from time to time that we do impersonations. So when I found this little Bert, I got it for Kitof’s birthday, since they’re coming here.”

“Cute! Wasn’t there also, like, an incident involving Ernie and Bert?” I had this hazy inkling that there were specifics I wasn’t remembering.

“Oh, that. Yeah.” His voice returned to normal. The most exciting part of his story had been told, so there was no need for dramatic emphasis on what he was going to say next. “One evening in Rome, we sat in the hotel watching videos of Ernie and Bert.”

It took me a second to process this.

“You guys were in Rome and that was how you spent the evening… watching Ernie and Bert?”

“Yeah!” he laughed. “It was just Rome.”

It was just Rome. Europeans!

“Uh… did it occur to you that it was weird?” I mean, ROME! I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me being American, but when someone begins a sentence with “One evening in Rome,” I kind of expect something other than Ernie and Bert to follow.

“No, it wasn’t weird. It was Ernie and Bert. We’re pretty good at impersonating them in French, too!”

Callaghan stood in the doorway and started to affect the muppets’ voices.

“Bart! J’ai soif!” he lisped in Ernie’s high-pitched voice. Then he dropped his voice to a nasally low and growled: “Hé Ernest! J’aimerais bien dormir!”

He turned to look at me. I wasn’t in my chair anymore. I was on the floor, laughing.

He ignored my hysterics and went to his computer, found the clip online and sent it to me. Thus, I can share it with you:

 

 

De rien! You’re welcome!

It’s in French, obviously, so I’ll summarize: it’s the episode in which Ernie and Bert (“Ernest and Bart” in French) are in bed, and Bert’s trying to sleep. You know the one. Ernie is thirsty, and he unwittingly keeps Bert awake as he talks to himself, coming up with silly ways to combat his thirst (including drinking imaginary mineral water). This concludes with Ernie finally getting up to get real water. But when he gets back into bed, he still can’t sleep… because by then, he’s hungry! And Bert’s like, WTF… I can’t win.

 

Bert sitting next to Callaghan on the 1M, going downtown. Keeping Austin Weird.

Bert sitting next to Callaghan on the 1M, going downtown. Keeping Austin Weird.

 

And here’s the sky full of bats! We actually missed their emergence from under the bridge… I took this picture while we were walking along the river. We’ll have to try catching them another time.

 

Bats! (les chauve-souris)

Bats! (les chauve-souris)

BIG TRANSITION AHEAD

We’re moving!

In September 2011, The Universe poured us a tall glass of France. The Universe was generous.

Universe: Say “when.”

(fast-forward 17 months)

Us: When!

That was in January. Since then, we’ve been super busy preparing to move. We’re now less than two months away from moving day.

While there are aspects of France I’ll miss, I’d be lying if I said we weren’t excited to be continuing on our amazing journey as a couple living completely irrational lives.

We’re heading across the pond to Austin, Texas. It’s on the eastern edge of the American Southwest, which I love. (Yeah, I was the 22-year-old girl who moved to Phoenix “temporarily” and wound up staying for 20 years. I’m a heat-addict.) Austin has a 100% approval rating from everyone we know who knows it.

Us: Hey Austin – Joe, Holly, Nick, Davey, Eden, Tracy, Christa and the person who wrote that cool book about bats have all told us so much about you!

Austin: Only good stuff, I hope.

Us: Of course! Here we come!

Austin: You seem weird enough. Especially him. Knock yourselves out. Oh, and BY THE WAY we’ve been targeted by that crazy man in North Korea. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Well, okay.

In addition to its obvious advantage of having a legendary flock of bats under a bridge, Austin has a low cost of living and a diverse music and art scene. It’s a state capital and a university town, and it’s on the Colorado River. We’ve never been there, and we’re especially loving the excitement of that! We’re looking forward to exploring a new place together.

As for the transient bats we have with us here in France, well… they’ll just have to carry on without us, those shameless little camera whores.

 

The bat crew

The bat crew

 

Look! They're wearing pants!

Look! They’re wearing pants!

 

Posing for Myspace

Posing for Myspace

 

"Do you seriously think an Austin bat could be a cute as ME?"

“Do you seriously think an Austin bat could be a cute as ME?”