Embracing the Unexpected

I suppose I have been too busy taking my own advice to post promptly this week . . .

I did attempt to strike a better balance, in some ways.  Mostly it meant devoting more time to work earlier in the week and then leaving more time for exploration and spontaneity on the weekend.

As for my internship, I think I could have used this advice earlier.  Other interns in my program warned me that things would go wrong and to always expect the unexpected.  I didn’t and it shook things up.  First of all, my mentor came back into town.  This was great on many levels; I got to go out to lunch with her and learn more about what she actually does at the Houston Center for Literacy.  I felt like my job was more important because I was actually helping her.  But when she returned, she took her office back and I was kicked out to the conference room.  I had more internet/computer issues to deal with for one, but mainly this was hard because I was more isolated.  The rest of the development department is situated on the opposite end of the office so although I blasted Pandora as normal, the gray walls and surrounding buzz of nothing started to get to me after a few days.

In addition, my mentor assigned me a different sort of project.  A non-writing one.  At first I liked the challenge.  But after a few days of struggling with it, I learned that there is a reason that writing is my strength and why I consequently enjoyed days with grant reports and text for public announcements.  I did learn the valuable lesson of asking for help from this one, too.  After hours of slaving away at emails and searching through hotel websites, my other mentor gave me the phone and told me to start talking to real people. It didn’t fix everything, but it helped.  I’m still working on this project now, week four of the internship.  It’s still more stressful than the other projects, but I’ve gotten better at managing it.  Plus it led to a Thursday morning visit to the Hobby Center last week.  Any excuse to get into a theater is good enough for me.

On to the weekend . . .

Friday night I went to see Kiss of the Spider Woman with a friend from my writing group. Kay, my playwriting mentor, had mentioned it to me a few weeks ago and as it was closing weekend I decided to take her advice.  We drove out into a sketchy part of downtown to this tiny, Hispanic community center/theatre.  But appearances can be deceiving.  It was an extremely professional piece and I enjoyed tracing the development of the characters. The two actors were amazing.  I could barely sit still from the tension in the second half of the play.  Both of us considered the pacing slow during the first half especially, but the unexpected yet warranted romance at the end worked quite nicely.

On Saturday morning, I changed up my normal schedule (sleeping in, driving around Houston, finding a cafe for writing and reading) and attended a reading event at the Houston Public Library’s Julie Ideson building.  At first I wasn’t too excited about sacrificing my Saturday afternoon.  Although I like the Houston Public Library, I was only attending because the event was sponsored by the publishing company I worked for last semester and I had just conducted a phone interview with the author, Andrea White, on their behalf.  It felt like a business obligation and I didn’t feel like sacrificing more of my week.  But, when my summer roommate and I walked up to the Julia Ideson building, I no longer felt so bad.  Even if I hadn’t enjoyed the operatic interpretation of Mrs. White’s latest children’s book, chatting with one of the new Bright Sky summer interns, or listening to the executive director of the Texas Book Festival ask Andrea White about her writing and her literacy advocacy, the building alone would have made the drive worth it.  I wish I had more pictures to show of the building and the rare children’s books inside the room where Mrs. White read, but these will have to do.

Early in the week, I decided to help throw a party with another friend on Saturday night.  I count this as embracing the unexpected because I have never thrown a party before.  In spite of the fact that my 21st birthday fell a month before I left for study abroad last fall, I had never even been in Spec’s until last Friday.  In the end, I didn’t end up really “co-hosting” the party.  It was at my friend’s apartment, he vetoed my entire playlist (after he told me to make one in the first place, grrrr . . . ), and invited more than half of the actual guests, but I still consider it worth the effort.  Pretty much, it taught me what I want at my own parties in the future:

  1. A playlist made up of Top 40, some fun Indie music, and danceable Oldies.  And NO remixes.  I’m sorry.  I know the rest of the world likes them, but I prefer the lyrics to go along in the normal, predictable order.
  2. No hard liquor.  Or at least no shots.  Things get out of hand quickly this way.  And they aren’t enjoyable.

As this week goes on, I intend to continue embracing the unexpected, whether that means riding my bike through campus in the pouring rain or abandoning the original plan for my play’s second act when the ending of one scene revealed a romantic interest between two of the main characters.  Unfortunately this will also be a cafe review-less week, but in my mind it is more than made up for by a short trip home to Austin and even more importantly, attending the COLDPLAY concert in Dallas on Friday night.


About austinausten88

Playwright in love with Classic films, afternoon tea, and Noel Coward. She recently graduated from Rice University. In the fall, she will be exchanging her English major undergraduate status for that of Theatre & Performance Studies graduate student.
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