Subtle Shifts in Austin, Subtle Shifts in Me

The estimated reading time for this post is 3 minutes

The Real Reality?

Being back in Austin feels like I just popped into the bathroom and wandered back out. It was a year, but everything looks and feels basically the same. Some wonderful people who were together are even more together by marrying. A few have replicated themselves. Life rolls on. There are a few tweaks around the edges of things. A new swanky restaurant or bar in the once poor part of town. A few more ultrahip people who, apparently, can’t afford jeans big enough to fit them.

A small southern town in China changes more in two days than the last year in Austin. Maybe it’s just that my sense of scale has been completely thrown off by buildings that go up in fifteen days and restaurants that turn into clothing boutiques in one.

learning to nap by using a hammock
Learning to nap

The odd thing about returning to a familiar place is that the completely different world I inhabited for a year now seems so far away that my experiences there can’t possibly be real. Then I step into a Chinese restaurant and find myself talking to the owner in Chinese. Suddenly I can’t deny the reality of having been in China, and my time in China seems like the real reality… and who are all of these strange people around me?!


Since posting this next section, I’ve had a lot of worried phone calls. I edited it a bit to be more clear but I thought I should also say upfront that everything is basically fine, I just have to take it easy and not overdo things the way I used to. Lisa also pointed out that my complaints are essentially that I’m no longer able to stop bullets with my chest and fly!

The CO Brain

I haven’t been able to be as crazy active as I’d like. I did really well the first few days but then started getting tired while talking to people in the intense way I love. The CO brain is still doing its best to slow me down. I cancelled all of my meetups (two-three a day) for the rest of my time to take it easy and make sure I was getting enough recovery rest. I’m now trying to schedule a maximum of one event every day and take one day breaks in between.

I’m also trying to learn how to nap, but failing miserably. How do you people do this?! When I get tired, I can’t do anything but lie around bored. If I do fall asleep it’s for several hours and I’m an irritating grump as I crawl through the wake up process. (That part is perfectly normal!)

The result of all of this is that despite being in Austin for some time now, I still haven’t seen many people or do all of the things I love to do. I managed to make it to one Tango class and a writer’s group and then couldn’t power up for the Milonga (Tango dance) that night. Fail. I’ve barely begun the giant list of people I’d like to see, although couch surfing has helped make some of that happen.

Hilariously, some of my friends are getting to like this new version of me. When I showed up a little wound down to meet with Lisa Kaselak, she thought I had a marvelous gravitas and loved that there were pauses in our conversation and fewer simultaneous topics roaring along at ninety miles an hour. As a conversational speed freak it drives me nuts, but perhaps bodes well for my future as a 道教 (Daoist) monk.

I’ve extended my time in Austin a bit to see if I can work more in gradually. I do appreciate time with friends when I get it and access to Yoga and Tango. 慢慢来。 (Màn man lái : go slowly).

3 thoughts on “Subtle Shifts in Austin, Subtle Shifts in Me

  1. Lee Billington

    Hey Kai, sorry this has been so rough on you. I think it’s difficult for those that have known the energetic Kai too. I wouldn’t mistake kind words re: gravitas for people ‘liking’ the new you, though. People love YOU, Kai — in all forms, we take the Kai we can get. And it’s better to acclimate than curse and wait.


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