Austin Texas: A Lesson In Mindfulness 

When I booked my trip to Austin earlier this year I hadn’t really thought much about what it would be like? I knew it was a cool town from all I’ve seen and heard about it. The music and “weirdness” has been overly stated in documentaries, travel shows and movies. I’ve been interested in going since I saw “Slacker” back when I was still a teenager, but I still was just looking to get away. 

My friend, Stacey, had invited me down to stay at her house. I’ve always seemed to connect with her so I thought it would be a good fit, I wasn’t wrong, the thing is due to our like-mindedness and similar struggles in life, it turned out to be a very important and needed piece to this journey. 

I arrived on a Friday, excited to be away from my job and my current rut. Though things began a bit off, weird even. I landed at a literal brand new terminal at the airport, which was only two days old and a drive from the actual main terminal,  Stacey, a Austin veteran, found me after some annoyance, and we were off, beginning my five day adventure. 

It was warm, but a welcomed heat from the on again off again winter of Cleveland. I was tired from work and travel but eager to put that behind me. We ate, relaxed, and attended a local comedy night, which was fun. It gave us time to catch up too after not having seen each other in years. It felt comfortable and refreshing to be visiting someone who understands my trials and circumstances. 

The next few days were planned out but not in an overwhelming way. Plenty of stuff to do mixed with a lot of downtime. There were many times of laughter but also some deep beautiful moments for the soul. The term “Mindfulness” is a perfect and appropriate description. Spending time taking in the local food, culture, and arts of this great American city. 

Sunday, the busiest day, we woke early and went to eat barbecue at a local spot, which was less popular than our initial plans, it was worth every mouthwatering penny. After food, we walked around town, visiting cool little shops and just chatting about life. It was such a needed time for me as I have had so little companionship lately. In the heat of the day we decided to rest, change and then it was time for Stacey’s planned art tour. We hit The Contemporary, a great little museum in downtown Austin, featuring a great exhibit by painter Garth Weiser. We then ventured out for food around the campus of the Universty of Texas. We took buses which was a great way to get around, as Austin has a fantastic bus system that is super cheap. 

That night, we met up with Stacey’s roommate for an exhibit called “The Color Inside, a Skyspace” by artist James Turrell. I didn’t take photos but if you have a chance check this out, it’s one of the more meditative things I’ve experienced and it for the theme of my trip as a very mindful exercise. I felt it was a great end to a fantastic day with a great friend. 

The rest of the week I spent wandering Austin alone, using busses and the awesome independent car service, RideAustin, which is their unique version of Uber. There is no Uber or Kyft in Austin, so this is their homegrown alternative. It even gives you the option to donate a portion of your fare to a charity, the app lists many. 

So I got several things up on my two solo days. Checking out museums and getting my hair done at Bird’s Barbershop in 6th Street. I checked out some touristy things but mainly just hopped around local spots and coffee shops, getting lost and loving the freeedom of my time. 

On my last day I went to the Blanton Museum of Art on the campus of The Univerity of Texas. I got in free because I’m an employee of the Cleveland Museum Of Art, so that was an added bonus. They had a great collection that was heavy on the contemporary side of things, which I love. All and all a fantastic Museum I recommend. 

I have to say this trip was my favorite I’ve ever taken. It is not because of the place as much as the experience and beauty of self discovery. A lot took place that was heavy and thought provoking, simple moments and other much deeper times of reflection. Stacey and I shared a lot about our stories, pain, suffering and our outlook on a new beginning. She helped me a great deal by exposing me to something’s I overlooked, primarily living for each moment as it comes. 

I will say this about my friend, she is a true beauty of a human being. I’ve always found her to be lovely, more so than most, but her soul is a wonderful thing. There have been moments that she was a crush and she has been a poetic muse for a long time but it’s her spirit that really makes her special. She can be as bright as a sunset and as foggy as a London morning, but all and all she is one of those unique colors you see and can’t forget. With style and grace she makes the world around her more vivid, like artwork. 

On Sunday there were a few moments where I was simply overcome by her energy and just blessed to be in her presence. First off, she looked amazing, just perfect style and she carried it with grace. Secondly, there was a point that I walked with her and it was like the world stopped just for us to enjoy each other’s company. She was the only person I noticed, not in some romantic way, but just completely at peace with where I was and who I was sharing my time with. I was genuinely happy, something I haven’t felt in a long time. She helped me in that. Thirdly, there were times of silence, where we took in the surroundings, a sing, a film, and lived in that moment. That meant the world, to do that. 

So as I sit writing this I am grateful, and feel like I had a breakthrough. My life is still that of a man broken by divorce, working a shitty job and living at his parents home, but I see a different purpose. It’s simple, just a little tweaking of the knobs, getting a clearer picture. It’s about the mindfulness of moments and  soaking up the true ether of life around us. It’s not always good and we will struggle but we can only control what we can, so try to not worry. Also love people, in those moments, without expectations or motivations. Just be, and set your goals accordingly. Remember the term “Mindfulness”. 

OK Computer Turns 20

If anyone knows me well, they know I’m not a huge fan of Radiohead, not at all but I am a huge fan of this record. Back in 1997 I received my free copy of Radiohead’s latest record, I had been aware of them, having seen them play in 94, and owning “The Bends” on cassette.

I was asked to review OK Computer, and like most of the promo CDs I got in those days, I gave it a listen but usually not much of a chance. This one though, it was a masterpiece, and I knew this was the record of that year. It was just about perfect from the writing, to the music, to the lyrics, the artwork and production, flawless. To this day it’s one of the best records of the era and one of the best I’ve ever heard. I remember playing it over and over again and scribbling notes down to craft my review, a review I am trying to locate actually. One of the best albums I ever received for review, if got all the stars I could muster and probably deserved a few extra.

So as I said I am no Radiohead fan, and after this masterpiece, I lost interest, but it’s a hard one to beat. I think I’ll go listen to it again. Happy 20th!

A Letter I Wrote To Leonard Cohen (But I Never Sent) 

L. Cohen dear sir,
You came to write for me
Broken songs for broken lovers
The martyred son of Bobby Dylan
Smoking blunt stacks of vinyl
Books bound in duct tape
Poet laureate of sad Mary Ann’s
Crackling fires in monastery makers
Gentleman callers touch tone
Tapping glass windows pebble beach
Shots of old whiskey and older wine
Sexually advanced fiction pilots
Crashing aircraft into eyelashes
For you taught me to see brown eyes
In a California golden sunset
Rusty like midwestern holidays
Or the blue eyes of a Canadian ghost
Sensual single record store angel
Even the southern jug band baby
That’s the magic gypsy gals
I still dream of Chelsea Hotel days
The ones I never knew but desired
So you gave me a bible and prayers
My hymnal of hopeless heartache
Romantic ramblers weaken in time
But you sang not for them
You sang for me