Saturday, September 20, 2008

attending an Obama silk-screening happy hour

Colored T's against the sun...
silk-screened Obama prints drying on the line.
Friendly people interested in meeting other people. United by a common purpose for being here, 6-8 friday evening at my friend Theresa's house. Theresa introduced me to some of her friends. She herself was kept busy taking the shirts, pillowcases, cute baby t's, towels, even car sun visor things (clever), and applying image.

I met a wife from Quebec and her husband from Minnesota. Both have lived in Austin for 20 years and one of their sons attends UT. Maria still has a thick French-Canadian accent. (Reminds me of my dad's family - also french-canadian.) I met their friend, Audrey, whose daughter goes to UT. We sat at one of the picnic tables in the back yard. The yard was filled with people of all ages and cultures by 7. Talking, listening, exchanging trust. 

Audrey wanted to know when I figured out what I wanted to do. Assuming I knew because of where I am or what I've done. "Even though I've always been pretty focused, the focus changes," I said, then explained how I started out at a liberal arts college majoring in equine science. We end up talking about horses for a little bit. Turns out her daughter rides at a local stable and maybe I would like to go with her sometime? 

Now I was curious. When did she figure out what she wanted to do? "I still don't know what I'm interested in. That's why I was asking you. I was jealous because you seem like you know," Audrey said. She went on to tell about a friend who knew he wanted to be an ornothologist since age ten, how he became one and has stayed on that track, how he is one of the happiest people she knows. His advice during an interview was to do whatever makes you happy. Audrey says this is a wonderful ideal, but what if what makes you happy doesn't pay the bills? "If you aren't financially secure, you're not going to be all that happy. Mother Theresa was not that happy," Audrey contemplated. I find out that she and her husband own a software company. They are financially secure. But Audrey has never done what she interests her and she wants to find out now. 

Looking back at this thoughtful, candid conversation with a stranger, I recall a quote by Indian philosopher and former UT teacher, Raja Rao, that, "Peace is sustained happiness." 

Yesterday before the Obama silk-screening, I stopped by the graduate student assembly happy hour at Hole in the Wall. I never knew these events existed. I almost did not go, but then I thought I should just make myself talk to new people. Mostly, there were communications masters students there. Also, mostly, there were first year grad students. Mostly surface conversations, no real connections. About to leave. And then I learn that the guy across from me grew up in Israel. He is here studying engineering. He seems like he really needs to talk about a recent feud with his brother, who is back in Israel. Daren openly admits his intense dislike for his brother. Then, he starts talking about his interests in sustainable building and civil engineering and philosophy. I tell him he should read "Cradle to Cradle" and he writes the title down. The topic of money comes up in this conversation too...maybe he would be a philosopher if he could make a living from it, he says. 

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