Relaxing in Hermann Park

These past two weeks at the Houston Center for Literacy have been exhausting.  I have loved working at the Run for a Reason kickoff party and helping run our READ, White and Blue conference, but waking up early and coordinating events has been more draining than I expected.  I’m actually looking forward to the start of school because I believe I will be less busy!  Thankfully I have had holiday and friend interventions to pull me out of my Brown room and out into Houston.  My time outdoors has especially made me feel more alive and ready to return to hard work and my writing.

Last week, right after the big conference, I had a whole day off work to celebrate American Independence Day.  I don’t think I have ever appreciated this holiday so much.  I spent the morning sleeping in, reading an entire novel (The Fault in Our Stars; I ended up live posting quotes from it onto tumblr as I read; it has been so long since I’ve been able to read for pleasure), walking around Rice’s outer loop, and slowly planning out my Fourth of July picnic.  In the end the picnic didn’t go exactly as I planned–fire ants appeared out of nowhere so we had to sit on some stone ledges instead of sitting in the grass, kids kept getting in the way when we tried to play frisbee, and at the end of the night one of my friends lost her car keys.  But in the end it was still a fun, different Independence Day celebration.  I loved eating junk food, chatting with my friends, and watching fireworks in the park with much of the city of Houston.  After the drought and ban in Austin last year I appreciated the latter part even more.

It was especially difficult to go back to the office on Thursday when many of my co-workers were out on vacation, but my two day return to HCL paid off majorly when Kaitlyn came in from Austin for the weekend.  It was a mutually beneficial weekend/vacation of sorts.  Kaitlyn needed the break from boredom and too much family time in Austin and I needed the break from so much work and alone time in Houston.  Some of the highlights of the weekend were going to see To Rome With Love and then returning to my new favorite tea house for post-movie chatting, walking around the inner loop–and then to British Isles to pour over tea and British sweets before buying Cadbury chocolate bars for the walk back, making copious amounts of hot tea, grocery shopping at midnight, watching Doctor Who, and making blueberry cheesecake pancakes.  But the best part, by far, was Saturday afternoon and Quidditch practice.

See the beater with the purple bandana? That’s me!

Kaitlyn has been playing Quidditch ever since she came to college.  Even before she transferred to Rice she tried to start a team at her other college.  I had always liked the idea–and had played a modified version once before at creative writing camp–but had only found time for one practice last semester.  After two practices I can officially say that this is a sport for me.  It’s weird because I’m not usually aggressive or sporty.  I played basketball in elementary and middle school, but I was never aggressive enough to advance further.  I thought that I didn’t like contact sports.  But there’s something about the fact that everyone is running around with broomsticks between their legs that just makes anything possible.  I know I already look ridiculous, so I might as well go for it.  And when I “went for it” during this second practice, I got tackled to the ground and knocked smartly on the nose, but I also scored my first ten points (for Gryffindor! not really, but I can’t help hearing the movie lines when I say this in my head).

Unfortunately, we only got to play two rounds because the rain started, but thankfully the fun just continued.  The players that stuck around played Werewolf, which is a lot like hide and seek except when you’re caught you become part of the wolf pack and help search and capture the rest of the human prey . . . It made me feel like I was in The Hunger Games.  I made it to the very end of the first round by hiding behind a tree for thirty minutes straight and then making a mad dash for my life.  During the second round, I experienced more Cato and friends than Peeta-like hiding, which was also an adrenaline rush.  To end the night we all piled in a few cars and ate at 59 Diner.  I have been trying to stay in shape this summer, but after such a long hard practice I treated myself with a butterscotch milkshake and lots of fries.  We ended up sitting there for two hours talking about Sherlock and Doctor Who.

I hope I can find time to play Quidditch more next year.  First of all, the team are all great people who are strong and competitive, but also accepting nerds like me. Second, I feel deliciously sore and powerful.  I love having battle scars and epic athletic stories for a change.  But most importantly, it’s freeing to take chances like that.  Quidditch forces me to act without overthinking.  If I do, I’ll get bludged right in the face.

I’m sad that Kaitlyn had to return to Austin and that the holidays are over for the time being, but it has helped recharge me for these last three weeks of the Summer Mentorship Experience in more ways than one.

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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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