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I had originally chosen the Seven Lions Middlelands set as my current jam, but sadly YouTube had to take it down due to copyright infringements… So! Here’s the set I loved the most next from Middlelands (which I’ve already listened to again twice since then).

Currently jammin’ to: Illenium at Middlelands 2017 set

Illenium is an amazing artist whom I highly recommend anyone to check out. :)

Life as Karen knows

I had a different post in the makes, but I scrapped it for this one because I wanted to change the focus. It’s been awhile since I last updated about my life (almost two months), aside from my last post focused solely on the death of my friend, so I figure its best to mention how life’s been treating me before rambling on about other things. More than likely this will be a really long post considering I have two months of stuff to write about.

Originally, I planned to head back to Arlington/Dallas mid-May and be at home for a couple months before I found a place in Dallas to live closer to school. I had already informed my work place of my last day, but due to multiple other coworkers also leaving, I was asked if I would be willing to stay longer. As I didn’t have exact reasons to be in Dallas (aside from some weekend events and trips that I had planned) and I was going to try to get a job over the summer anyways, it seemed easier to just keep the job I already had so long as enough hours were provided to make it worthwhile (and that my friend, whom I am staying with, is okay with me staying around longer). In the end, that’s exactly what they provided to me (the hours) and thus my stay in Austin (slash my friend’s place) has now extended to the end of July.

While it hasn’t been too difficult, and I greatly enjoy the extra time spent in Austin, it definitely did mess with some of the plans I initially planned to be at. Now I’m back in this every other weekend in Dallas schedule again. Some of it was just for traveling from Dallas (DFW airport) rather than actually doing things there, but some was also being in Dallas.

I’ll probably miss some things in recent events that have been happening, but I’ll try my best to be true to my blog idea aka personal tracking of my life events (for everyone else to see as well). Last time, these were the things I said I was looking forward to: Middlelands, Atlanta visit, climbing more, volleyball, trying Franklins BBQ, visiting Hamilton Pool, and seeing lots of friends. I haven’t actually been able to climb more yet (did buy shoes though), or play volleyball much, or visit Hamilton Pool, but I have seen friends, gone to Atlanta, attended Middlelands, and tried Franklins BBQ finally. I also went to Portland, checked out a remote part of Greenbelt, night time kayaked to live latino music, and had a scattering of birthday parties, small concerts, and events (like Mother’s day). So again, warning that this post will probably be pretty long, but cool if you’re bored and wanna read all about my life. Or just scroll for pictures. :)

Fun with friends in Austin

A big surprise came in the form of meeting up with an old friend from Emory that I hadn’t seen (or even talked to) in five or six years who was down in Austin for a wedding. Consequently, I got to try out some places I’d never been in Austin, like Veracruz tacos, Radio coffee and bar, JuiceLand,  swimming in Greenbelt off some random path, and the Botanical Gardens. Who knew I’d see more of Austin from someone coming to visit from Austin?

Swimming in Greenbelt was definitely the highlight. A short hike entering from some random neighborhood and we found ourselves at a lovely pool of water/stream. Wejumped off the cliff into the cool water which wasn’t too cold despite this still being late April (and the weather was maybe high 70s?). We had brought some Veracruz tacos with us to eat there and had Radio coffee while waiting for the food beforehand.

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the crew going swimming to Greenbelt!

Afterwards we ate at Tan My which had pretty good bun bo hue (well, I just tried some didn’t actually order anything), and I consequently found out one of the newfound friends was dating my current roommate’s old co-worker (that I had met before long ago). Once again somewhat proving how small the world sometimes feels.

We went to Graffiti Castle (or the Hope Outdoor Gallery as it is officially called now) as well as the Botanical Gardens afterwards. I’d always wanted to go to the Botanical Gardens (mostly to Pokemon hunt XD) but it was still… an experience I guess. Whenever i think of botanical gardens, I think flowers. I’m not sure if maybe it was still too early or what, but I feel like I had to try really hard to find some flowers (literal flowers ;)). In the end, at least I can say that I’ve gone. We did some hiking to the 360 bridge as well, but only to the overlook.

It was a fun time, filled with outdoor activities and food, which is exactly what I like. Plus I got to catch up with an old friend and meet new ones.

Lots of birthdays, some going away parties, one Mother’s Day, and many other scattering of events (Corona Electric beach party, ARMNHRM at Kingdom, etc) occurred in various fashion. I’d go into all of them more but I’m not trying to dictate my whole entire life up here (well, I kind of am, but not to that extreme).

One other Austin highlight recently was that I finally got to kayak! It was actually an evening/night time kayak event with live Latino music serenading us as well. The weather couldn’t have been any nicer, honestly. I had an amazing time on Lady Bird Lake and enjoyed some wine, beer, and finger foods (grapes & mangoes). There were also some people who got onto the band’s platform and salsa danced. It really made me want to get better at salsa dancing. Maybe someday I’ll find a partner to do that more with ;) maybe.

The Road to Middlelands

Let me start by saying these events aren’t exactly in chronological order, so while the swimming in Greenbelt happened in late April, the kayaking happened this past Friday night, and Middlelands occurred in eary May, to give you an idea. So apologies ahead of time if this somehow gets confusing in terms of timelines. Anyways.

I know it’s kind of bad to do, but I totally have no problem with talking about how amazing Middlelands was to people who didn’t go. It’s been probably the best music festivals I’ve ever attended. The music, the people, everything was near perfect and most times better than I expected. My one regret was getting drunk enough to forget to go to Big Gigantic on the first night. Who knew taking big gulps of vodka early on would keep me drunk the whole night? In the end, I missed one of the more unique artists that I really wanted to see, but regardless of missing Big Gigantic, all the shows I did catch easily make Middlelands one of the best festivals ever attended. This is not just an opinion I hold, but honestly many attendees felt this way as apparent through many blogs, posts, groups, people, etc that I’ve read and talked to after the festival. Some felt that way having gone to many festivals in the past, and some felt that way from it being their first festival. Honestly, if you didn’t know what PLUR really was before, you could’ve definitely learned about it at Middlelands. It was really that kind of feel.

Middlelands 2017 music festival

some of the Middlelands peeps I was hangin’ with that weekend :)

And the music, I could relive that whole weekend again with just that music. So many amazing artists, and some that surprised me in expectations. My favorite set, as I said earlier in this post, was Seven Lions with Illenium coming in close second. But other sets, like Bassnectar, Alice in Wonderland, and Louis the Child were also incredible. I also learned about a few new (to me) artists like Quix and Ephwurd, both of whom were amazing live as well.

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my favorite stage at Middlelands! where Illenium and Seven Lions killed it

I honestly probably could have made a whole post about Middlelands alone, but I’ll refrain. I’ll just post pictures and relive in them and the uploaded sets from then. I will say that I’m really sad it won’t be at the Texas Renaissance Festival anymore due to some locals complaining about the noise. I very much hope it will stay in Texas, but I know where ever it ends up being held, it will still be amazing. This year’s is basically legendary (in my book), and if it stays in Texas I’ll probably be back again. Sherwood, I’m looking at you!

Atlanta, aka Dallas and Houston mixed together

Back in undergrad, I made some life long friends during my time in Resident Life as an RA. We decided that five years after we graduated, we would all meet up for a reunion in a city we’d never been to (at the time, it was decidedly Seattle), and each of us would bring X, Y, and Z. I think mine was bringing a husband or something, and my other friend was like a pet bird, and another was a foreign wife, or something weird and crazy. In the end, we didn’t go to a new city but back to Atlanta (though I, as previously mentioned, have now been to Seattle anyways), our old stomping grounds, and none of us brought any of the decided things (which we all forgot anyways), but we did have our reunion. Additionally, it was one of my friend’s birthdays that weekend, so we reminisced, did an escape room, watched some stand-up comedy, and checked out old and new Atlanta places.

escape room atlanta

we almost finished. Last puzzle :(

I’m so grateful for my friends, both the ones I gained at Emory and the ones before and after. It’s always tough to stay in touch when everyone lives everywhere else (Atlanta, Chicago, Japan/Boulder, etc), but I’m glad that we’ve still made attempts to stay in contact and connected to each other. I’ll be seeing them again later this year for the first one of us to get married, but we planned to once again meet in 5 years at the latest. I hope we’re able to keep our promise again. :)

The hike to Portland (or really, in)

Another city I’d never been to and another activity I’d never really done has once again been accomplished: I took a 13+ mile hike in Portland, Oregon last weekend. I was actually somewhat worried about my physical capabilities for the hike, but surprisingly handled it well. I guess I’m in better shape that I think? Or more like I can stay active for a lot longer than I give myself credit for. Either way, it was a wonderful experience. Portland is very lush and beautiful. Such amazing views and nature feels. Naturally, we also toured around some food places and caught really by chance events, like their Starlight Parade and a random Trump/”freedom of speech” white supremacy rally and consequent anti-rally/protest. It was one of the most spontaneous (aka a nice way to say unplanned, but not necessarily unpleasant) trips I’ve recently taken, but still had some great times.

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the lovely Portland hiking group being fancy :)

I’ve never been a part of a rally or a protest (at least not physically), so it was pretty interesting to see. There was an enormous crowd for the protest while the rally itself seemed much smaller. I think that’s actually pretty reflective of America as a whole, but that’s another can to be opened a different time.

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some signs at the rally (but from the protesters)

The Starlight parade (which is part of their International Rose Festival, but has nothing to really do with roses?) was pretty cool too. We only caught parts of it because we had reservations at this whiskey library bar, but we did see a slew of DeLoreans parade through decked out with lights. As you can imagine, the parade is held at night time and features lots of floats with pretty lights. There was also quite a few high school marching bands, to my surprise.

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there was a bit in the parade that was just DeLoreans :)

To sum up what we did in Portland, we hiked, ate lots of food (mostly decent but to be completely honest Seattle was better, sorry), drank a variety of alcohol (we went to a bar which provided tasting shots 4 for $5, one of which you could choose a wasabi vodka), and part took in some local recreational fun. We actually ended up checking out their Japanese garden and Rose garden, both of which were cool. Seeing all those beautiful roses was actually pretty cool. If I were to go back to Portland, I’d definitely want to just go for hiking and camping. There are so many trails you can go on and so many beautiful views to be seen. Plus, the weather was really nice (when we were there).

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a Great Pyrenees meet up at the market!

Check out the actual hike pictures here. For some reason, WordPress won’t properly show the pictures from Instagram on my post. And I’m too lazy to figure it out.

If you didn’t already know, Portland is for some reason famous for its strip clubs. We didn’t go to any, but had a very interesting lyft driver who kept talking about the perverse side of Portland and its strip clubs, particularly one that was vegan. So I guess Portland is lots of hiking and strip clubs. I think I’ll just stick to the hiking parts though.

Another interesting part (coming from Texas) of Portland is the people. We went to a Thai restaurant, and all the workers (cooks, dishwashers, etc) were white while the owner/some servers were Asian. It was weird and that’s how it was everywhere. It came to us not exactly as a surprise, but just so different from where we come from. It was also weird how extreme the sides of Portland people are. There are some really nice, open-minded people there, and then there are some really white supremacy extremists too. Definitely unexpected. Anyways.

Given how much I had to go through, I tried to condense and not ramble too much about everything. Usually I like to post personal thoughts and what not, but the length of this post is already pretty high up there so I’ll refrain this time. Maybe I’ll make a post later for just thoughts. Maybe. I’m surprised I didn’t talk much about the recent amazing food I’ve been having (which definitely still happened in Portland and elsewhere, just didn’t write about it.) Well, maybe I’ll just post on IG or something. ‘Til another time! :)

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