The aftermath of the storm that was SXSW was most welcoming. Credit must go to the street cleaners, who managed to return the city to normality. Whomever came up with the idea to cover all vertical pillars and poles with plastic wrap, deserves a medal. Such an ingenious idea. Rather than spend hours scraping away offensive posters, all they have to do is unwrap the clear film and voila! Our car park did not fair so well. Perhaps it was the insistence that it was 'private property', that had it left in such a state of disrepair, but you can't have it both ways! Perhaps we needed to plastic wrap the ground!
Surprisingly enough, I did feel a slight void. However, there was a level of excitement, albeit on a different plane. I cannot continue without saying 'Thank you' to all that read this post. I received a wonderful comment from someone I know not, who enjoyed my rendition of the previous week's events, and I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all who come back, week after week, to see what I have to say. Although Austin is never 'hum-drum', life had returned to my level of normality and I was left with the dilemma of, 'how do I follow that!', and with a more subdued look on the life of An Englishwoman Abroad, I shall make the attempt.
Although I intend my posts to be lighthearted and, hopefully, somewhat amusing, we are, as mentioned, in the middle of the Texas 83rd Legislature Regular Session, which does take up a lot of our time. Politics are not normally funny, although the phrase, 'are you joking?' is often thrown around when a new adverse law is passed! I do not attend the committee hearings, to personally give my testimony, as they usually begin around 2pm, and someone has to remain behind the wheel in the office. My contribution is restricted to making telephone calls, and writing letters. Writing exactly what I feel is not a problem, but I am not always convinced it is the most efficient way of getting my point across. Telling an elected official that they need to remember the oath they took to uphold and defend the Constitution, is not perhaps the best way to make friends and influence people. Asking why do we bother having a Constitution if you are not going to adhere to it?', probably adds to the negativity, and concluding with, 'Do not shatter my American Dream', may preclude me from winning the heart of the author of the legislation, to which I oppose. I can just imagine a long standing politician being handed my letter, and saying to his committee, 'Hey guys; The Brit has a point!' In the words of my adopted country's citizens; 'Ain't gonna happen!' I am more likely to receive a note that says, 'Remember the Boston Tea Party!' That is why I do not insist that I go to the Capitol to 'lobby' for the safety of our industry, in place of Dana. The British accent can only intimidate so far! 'You invited me back' is not a strong enough line of defense should they remind me, 'We kicked you out in the 18th century!' However, if I do nothing, I do not feel that I have the option to express my disappointment after the fact. (No vote, no voice theory) Thus my prolific, possibly controversial, views will continue to be penned throughout the next couple of months.
The particular bill on which I wrote letters this week had a hearing on Tuesday. Fortunately, there were only a few items to be heard, and although, as usual, the one that affected us was demoted to the bottom of the list, Dana was back in the office shortly after 5pm. I was contemplating a late night, as the hearings can run on into the late hours of the day. Although I have never left the office after hours to join him at the Capitol, I have considered, this session, entering the room, and sitting quietly at the back, knitting. (Remember Bayeux! I just can't win!) Dana's absence for the whole afternoon did mean that we were playing 'catch up' for the next couple of days, and leaving the office later than usual.
During one of the three late nights, this week, I did manage to spend some time sorting through my collection of useless items procured during the previous week, and separated them into categories. There were four. I placed flash drives with flash lights, sunglasses with lip-balm, drawstring bags with totes, and all other useless items remained in the fourth pile. I am unsure when I am ever going to find a use for a miniature flashing traffic cone, or for the plastic tube that changes colours when twirled, but one must never say never! I realised that my ability to be judicious in my collection of all things useless went far beyond impossible, as the much larger 'useless object' compilation had to be split into two bags. Perhaps, one day, I will have some very happy grandchildren! (I am not sure whether my children will approve!)
Wednesday was, indeed, a reminder that the city in which I live does have a lot to offer. I had an invitation to skype with Dawn, my friend in Australia. During a recent aeroplane journey, she had found an article about Austin in a magazine. It gave an insight into how to keep occupied from eight in the morning, to three or four the following morning, outside of music, motorbike or grand-prix events. She wondered when I got time to sleep! I reluctantly told her that whilst aware of every location mentioned, and the fact that I had visited several, participation was not compulsory. However, it would appear that should she visit (jalapeno margaritas were not the only draw) we would have to make an exception! We mused on the fact that two girls, who lived a few miles apart in the suburbs of London, were now inviting each other to visit their homes, both half way around the world.
The week progressed, and by Friday, I was ready to curl up in bed and hibernate until Monday, but alas, that was not going to happen. Meetings and Hearings at the Capitol translates into an excess of ironing. Rather than the usual casual wear, my husband has to dress for the occasion, and exchanges t-shirts for the cotton, collared variety, that cannot simply be washed and tossed into the tumble dryer. I was reminded that 'decrease' does not necessarily mean less, especially when it is made into two words. The amount of laundry that I had to 'de-crease' was more than I am used to, and the task took twice as long as usual. Samantha arrived shortly after midday and the thought of grocery shopping suddenly became very appealing. It appears that any change is as good as a rest! It obviously did me good to have a change of scenery. Even my conversation with the electronic scanner was reasonably polite, despite her being less than honest in her attempt to get me to pay for bags!
Joe had invited us for breakfast on Sunday, which included (of course) delicious coffee, and eggs Benedict, with home grown spinach. I ended my weekend ready to write coherently to the next legislature who, in my (British) opinion, attempts to defy gravity!
The impending week will consist of four working days for me. Samantha and I take off on Friday for a two day whirlwind trip. I am not sure as to whether I will be fit to post next Sunday, as one of the planes I have to board, has propellers! Whether she will get me to board is.............another story.