Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Austin Reflections

This last week Mom and I went to Austin to my niece, Nina’s, graduation. She is a great kid. Mom and I had a wonderful time, but there were a few little things that "rung my bell".

If you are ever in Austin, look my brother up. He is a great host taking us around the town and showing us the sights. He took us to a wonderful breakfast place where I had "love migas" with black beans – yum! Later that evening he took us to an old motel called San Jose, which had a courtyard where they served beer, wine, and snacks. Both of these places were popular Austin hangouts with lots of odd people to watch. Craig took us to a place called Donn’s Depot, which is an older bar in Austin with some good music and atmosphere. My brother’s house is down near Barton Springs Rd. and South Congress (SoCo) which was interesting in itself. I love the funky old Austin homes up and down the hills, and everything was so green. We went to Nina’s school where she did a presentation and then did what was called a "star walk" (walking through the school while students came out of the classroom and cheered her on – quite fun). We went to her graduation where she got Outstanding Hispanic Student. Then, of course, we attended the graduation party that her divorced parents threw for her in a friend’s backyard.

When we arrived at Craig’s house, I had brought him a couple of gifts. I gave him a painting, which he seemed to like okay, and I also gave him a T-shirt. The T-shirt was blue with an old pick-up on the front of it. Since we both learned to drive in our dad’s old 55 GMC pick-up, a truck that we both drove as teen-agers and meant a lot to us, I thought he would love the shirt. Instead, he was horrified because it had "America" written on it also. What’s up with that? Just because he is a liberal, does that mean he is anti-America?

Then he bad-mouthed Barbara Bush as being a rich lady who had no idea how to help the poor or what the poor Katrina evacuees needed. He thinks because Barbara is rich, that she has no understanding. Craig pays an enormous amount of rent on a small funky house in a highly popular Austin neighborhood. The house down the street recently sold for $300,000. It is the lifestyle he has chosen (certainly different from mine). Why can’t Barbara choose her own lifestyle? Who is the snob here? He seems to look down on anyone who lives differently or thinks differently from himself. I told him that I liked Barbara and I like her when she says what she thinks even when it is politically incorrect. I try to avoid any political discussions with Craig, but when one of his lady friends asked him to go see the "new Al Gore Movie", I nearly gagged. Hey, if that is their idea of a hot date…

Still, I did not say much to Craig, but I had a few thoughts. The people in Austin work at being so different that they are actually all the same. Even the people at Nina’s self-paced school seem to push "individualism" yet they seem to all be teaching liberal thoughts and views. The students all seemed much the same in their rebelling. There was no real diversity. The school was proud that they had "prepared their students for the world". They may have prepared them for life in Austin, but not the world. What’s up with the "Outstanding Hispanic Student" award? Did the school not have any real Hispanic students or just none that were outstanding? Why did they choose Nina who certainly did not overcome any adversity due to being Hispanic - her last name is Barker. She doesn’t even speak Spanish. Craig is sending her to Mexico this week to a language school to learn Spanish when he and his Hispanic ex-wife could not take the time to teach Nina the language themselves. I would tell you my thoughts on sending your precious daughter to Mexico with another teenager who loves to party, but I think you may know my thoughts. And you probably know my thoughts about parents who cannot take the time to teach or pass down an inheritance to their own children.

Okay, I am beginning to rant. I have watched my brother try to raise his two children after being abandoned by his wife, their mother, because she wanted to run and play. He has had to work to make her a part of their lives, and there she was taking a large part of the credit as if she had been a good mother. In lots of ways, Craig has done a good job, but I am not so sure what his goal was. He has had the love and support of a good family and yet he has chosen to keep his children from us and our conservative ways. By trying to make his children into "free thinking individuals" he has turned them into odd-Austinites who all think alike. We will see what the future holds. It would be nice to be more apart of his life and the lives of my niece and nephew, but instead I am an observer. Let’s just say that Austin is a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there. It is his choice.


Buck Pennington said...

Wow, Lou, this has to be the classic example of "you can choose your friends, but you can't choose your family."

I hope these illustrations were just nits on the surface of your trip. As for me, all I can say is I'd have taken the tee shirt back and worn it myself. All week.

Bag Blog said...

I actually bought myself a T-shirt too although I did not take mine to Austin - next time I will.