Essay: Becoming Seattle

SN859177I awoke today with a mission: Retrieve a package from the Fed Ex office up on Broadway, and go to a drug store for assorted stuff and things. Before walking out the door I looked in the mirror and was shocked. I looked like a Seattle native. There she was, staring at me in her worn out black pea coat, dirty old sneakers and skinny jeans. Her knit yellow hat that didn’t match her green scarf, the size of which could have fit her and ten of her closest friends. But this was not native looking back at me. It was me! The California girl! (The girl who didn’t walk anywhere because that song is right, nobody walks in L.A.) Seeing that dingy yellow hat reminded me. I’m not a native. Not really. That hat saw Texas, The Grand Canyon, and The California Redwoods long before it saw Seattle. And now it gave me the look of any local who comes in the store looking for Infinite Jest. When did this happen?

I set out on my mission walking fast. I developed my City Walk in the winding streets of San Francisco and I’m as good as any native New Yorker at dodging, avoiding, ignoring and moving in general. I’m like Jason Bourne meets James Bond. But my City Walk is a liability here in Seattle. A city who collectively meanders. A city who will wait their turn when no one else is around. A city who is so polite it causes traffic and incurs rage in an L.A. native like myself. (L.A.: A city where wait your turn means go)

I adjusted my speed, but kept my pace fast enough not to be bothered by, or knocked over by anyone. I passed slow-moving people heavily engaged with the palms of their hands, not watching where they are going. A young woman was so engaged in her own hand that she tripped over a dog. That made me smile. I quite enjoy running errands. I felt the same way in Prague and San Francisco. Places where just stepping out your front door could result in a hilarious story for later.

For me a twenty-minute walk to the post is a journey across the world and a tango down memory lane. I walk by Annapurna (here in Seattle) and the rich, vibrant smells of chicken tiki masala and warm naan remind me of the delicious meals I’ve shared with friends in Berkeley and London. I’m suddenly transported to Brick Lane, eating warm spicy curry in a crowded restaurant then getting fresh-baked doughnuts from the bakery next door. I’m sitting in a restaurant in Berkeley with my friends and their one year old happily eating spicy food, proving once and for all that babies can handle their spice. Each step I take is a new memory. A new place to revisit.

I keep moving. I pass a bar with a familiar neon sign. “The Alley”, it says. I smile and think about Oakland and how much I loved living there. How much I love singing at The Alley. Rod Dibble on piano. Song books available, just ask. Blue Moon you saw me standing alone. Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man. Cigarette stained business cards tacked to the walls. Stapled. Pined. Taped. Decades worth of ghosts listening to the drunk and out of tune sing the songs of yesteryear. Over and over. Night after night. The Alley. Oakland. The first city to steal my heart. But not the last.

I passed a tiny dog barking at a pigeon the size of a small house cat. I passed small groups of students in front of the City College. One group in a heated debate about how many selfies constitute “too many” on FB. Another group laughing about a girl named Jenny and whether she should be pursuing a career as a metal drummer if she’s never even heard of Metalica. I thought of my years at PCC and the similar debates I had with friends. Who’s better Barbara or Liza? Fosse or Sondheim? I know I don’t need anymore literature classes, but do you think I should just take one for fun? Discovering poetry and learning to write it. Learning to write. Buster’s Coffee shop and Vroman’s Bookstore. PCC Flea Market and MTW. The good old days in Pasadena, not my home town but damn well close. Literally.

I know some folks look at the way I’ve lived my life and say I’ve wasted it. I know this because folks tell me. The internet is great for that. Strangers actually write to me just to tell me that I have wasted my life. I have nothing to show for my forty-one years on the planet. And maybe they are right. I don’t have any THING to show for it. I’ve had cars but I sold them. I don’t own property and I don’t have kids. I don’t have a fancy job or fancy clothes. If the accumulation of things is the sign of a life well lived, then you’d be correct in saying I’ve totally wasted my life.

But I don’t feel that way. I feel lucky. I’m lucky because for me, a trip to the post office is trip around the world. It’s fun, not a chore. I pass a Phò place and think about the little place near JZP in Prague, and the twenty amazing places in London. I smile. If I had never left southern California I wouldn’t have a cache of memories that are with me wherever I go. Even if it’s just to the post office.  

And now every day is an adventure. I looked out over the water today and thought about The Charles Bridge in Prague, but also how much I love the scenery here in Seattle just as much now. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Hell, I wouldn’t even trade Austin. I met some fine people there and now have a deeper understanding as to why the rest of the world thinks Texas is full of crazy people. (Hint: Because Texas is full of crazy people)

By the time I returned home to my little studio here in Capitol Hill I had been through London, Oakland, Prague, Mexico, L.A. and Texas. I was exhausted but oddly happy. And isn’t that the greatest measure of a life well lived? Happiness? If I can return home from the Fed Ex office, three drug stores and the QFC, all while carrying a package and bundled up like a tick about to pop, I’d say I’m doing something right. My travels have made me adaptable to my surroundings.

As long as my surroundings are not in Texas.

Travel: Adios, Texas

Texas Addio titleDear Texas,

I’m leaving you. By the time you read this I will already be on my way. I know we’ve only been together for about a year and a half, and that’s a long time for some people, but it was way too long for me. I think it will be better for both of us if I leave. We both knew I wasn’t happy here, but at least I tried. You? All you did was tell me how awesome you USED to be, or how stupid I am because of where I was born. That’s just not nice. I would try “It’s not you it’s me”, but this time it actually is you.

You weren’t all bad, I guess. I had a blast going to the movies at The Alamo Draft House, and I think the burgers at Wholly Cow are pretty badass… if you don’t mind waiting 40 minutes for a burger. (Even when you call ahead.) I also enjoyed Half Price Books and Book People. Both fine establishments worthy of note. And Taco Deli is pretty darn great. I was so very happy to work just down the street from such yummy tacos.

I guess the best part of living and working in Austin was my job. I met some great teachers and made friends with some pretty awesome kids. (Cora, I’m talkin’ to you) I laughed a lot at work – which is saying something when you teach preschool. So, thanks for that. I really did enjoy my time at work. I had fun teaching the little people of Austin that the world is a bigger place than Texas, and it’s their job to get out there and see it. I had fun singing, running, laughing, making coffee, and coloring with all of you.

But a good job and nice co-workers are not enough to keep me around. I adored Prague, but I still knew it was time to move on and find new adventures. So I came to Texas. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Right? Right. But Austin was a total let down. I need a city that is forward thinking, not stuck in its glory days. I need more than a has been. Sure you might have been something ten years ago, but what good does that do me now? Talking about how cool you used to be only highlights how uncool you are right now. Gentrified with a beer gut. You walk around like the Prom King, but you are more like that 35 year old dude who trolls college parties looking for babes. Living in the past doesn’t make you cool. It makes you sad.

Although I was miserable for most of our relationship, I wish you the best. I know it’s hard to admit when you’re wrong, but maybe someday you’ll see it. There is a reason people make fun of you, Texas. You are pretty inhospitable. Calling people “outsiders” doesn’t really help them to feel warm and welcome. Blaming all of your problems on “them” doesn’t help anything. You have outdated alcohol laws and your public transit is a joke. Closing over a dozen Planned Parenthood’s over the past month doesn’t really instill trust either.

So this is good-bye. Thanks for the traffic and the relentless heat. Thanks for the annoying sports fans and the fat laden food. Thanks for telling me to “get the fuck out” daily. It made me feel great. Most of all, thanks for giving me a new experience. I might have not LOVED you, but at least I tried. At least I stepped outside of my comfort zone and gave it my all. I’m sorry you can’t do the same.

Best of luck

Travel: Road Trip! Road Trip!


winter grand canyon

It’s official. Our cross-country, five state, road trip/moving adventure starts in exactly TWENTY DAYS! That’s right, on the 29th of this month we pack up the car, and set out for California. I’ve been planning this trip for months – prepping, making lists, buying supplies, charting our route – but now that it is three weeks away, I’m slightly nervous. I’m excited, but nervous.

The reality of winter camping slapped me in the face this week when winter finally came to Texas. I’m not complaining mind you. I’ve been waiting for this since last winter, which lasted all of two weeks. I’m a fan of cold, chilly weather. I loved wintertime in Prague with all the snow, and the cold. I didn’t care for the fact that it got dark at 3:30 in the afternoon, but other than that, winter was a time of mulled wine and hibernation. It then dawned on me that much of my enjoyment of cold weather happens while I am wrapped in a blanket, in a cozy, heated flat. I’ve never intentionally camped out in the snow before. Unless waiting in line in the snow at 4am outside of the Czech Foreign Police counts as camping. Which it should.

WIGWAM-MOTEL--6Here’s the plan, the itinerary. We’ll be driving between 5-7 hours a day,and then camping overnight. We’ll be camping in Texas, Arizona, Nevada, and California, and we might be going through Vegas. We plan to spend New Year’s Eve camping under the stars at The Grand Canyon. Sounds romantic, right? It sounds a little less romantic when you realize that it will be around 18 degrees overnight. And there will probably be snow. I’m a total badass, but camping in a tent in the snow seems just a little crazy.

So I made reservations at a Hostel near the Grand Canyon. The idea is to keep the reservation and play it by ear. If it seems like we’ll end up as an episode of Dateline where they interview all of our friends and family about what kind of people we were before we froze to death, then we’ll stay at the hostel. I kind of also made reservations at The Wigwam Hotel on Route 66. I thought it might be fun to ring in the New Year in a teepee, and I have always wanted to stay there. I like having options that don’t include freezing.

Bixby Creek Bridge

Bixby Creek Bridge

The trip is designed for us to move and see some parts of the country we might have not seen before. I have a list of things we will be seeing along the way. Things like The UFO Museum, standing on the corner of Winslow Arizona, The Grand Canyon, San Simeon State Park, The world’s largest artichoke, Monterey Bay Aquarium, and much, much more. I’ve seen many of these sights before, but never as an adult. We both feel like we saw and did a lot while living in Europe, so we should do the same while we are here in the states. Who knows if we’ll stick around, so we better see the sights!

We’ll arrive in San Francisco just in time for my birthday. It feels like I’ve come full circle. I lived in Oakland/San Francisco before moving to Prague. I had my 30th birthday there, and now I’ll have my 40th there. It feels like the right time to come home again. I’ll get to see friends that I haven’t seen in almost ten years. I’ll get to introduce my fella to some of the coolest people I know, and I’ll get to sing karaoke at The Mint once more. It’ll be great. Just looking at pictures of The Bay Bridge gets me excited and happy.

I can’t wait to start this next adventure. Because this isn’t just a road trip, we are pulling up stakes and moving yet again. The plan is to spend six months volunteering at Ratna Ling Buddhist Center and then move to Seattle. We talked about all of the reasons Austin didn’t work out for us and looked for a city that had some things Austin was lacking. Things like walkability, good public transit, weather, green trees, gays and good coffee. I can’t wait. I seem to have made a habit of moving to cities I’ve never stepped foot in before. Should be fun.

The way I see it, life is just a big adventure waiting to happen. You can choose to participate or you can sit on the sidelines and watch. Thoreau once said, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” And that’s what I’m trying to do. I wasted enough time working in an office doing silly, meaningless things like data entry, or answering the phone for someone who was far too important to do it them self. That’s not living, at least not to me. Do no harm, but take no shit. That’s my motto.

Sticks and Stones

Image“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

We all learned that rhyme as kids and even back then, we knew it was crap. Sticks and stones hurt, but so can words.

A few months ago I wrote a post about living in Austin, Texas. When I initially posted it, it didn’t make much of a splash. Some people loved it. Some people hated it. Some people didn’t care either way. Jump ahead to yesterday and… BOOM!

Over the last two days that post has had over 18,000 views and over 300 comments.

To say that I am overwhelmed by the attention is an understatement. I thought I had hit my biggest number of views when I was featured as “Freshly Pressed” last month. Wow, was I wrong. Almost overnight my blog views exploded. And so did the comments. While I’m happy and grateful to have so much attention, I am also a little freaked out by all the hate.

I knew my piece on Austin wasn’t going to be popular with… some people. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about Texans, it is this: Texans LOVE Texas. Texans do not want to hear about/from/of people who do not love Texas. Oh, and this: Texans hate Californians. Not one to back down from opposition, I wrote about my personal experiences here in Austin.

Knowing what I know, I expected some criticism. And I welcome criticism. I welcome dissent and discussion. What I don’t welcome is hateful or hurtful speech. I don’t welcome rude comments. I do not welcome personal attacks. I don’t know what it is about the internet that lets people think they can be assholes, but people be assholes! Here is a short list of things people wrote to me, or about me because I don’t like living in Austin.

Bitch, loser, pretentious snob, whore, asshole, cunt, twat,”Get the fuck out”, privileged rich bitch, co-ed, idiot, stupid, ugly, lame, retarded and finally, evil. Yes, evil

After a day and a half of trying to wade through these comments and find the ones worth reading, I gave up. I closed the comments and gave myself some peace.

Now, I am left with a weird feeling. The comments don’t really bother me. I’m used to it. I think it is the sheer volume of them – both good and bad. But who does that? Who logs on the internet, reads an opinion they don’t like and then calls that person a cunt? Who does that? And the fact that someone would say such ugly things and then think I am stupid enough to actually post them just astounds me. Honestly. My blog is not a democracy. (Nobody can publish a comment without it getting through me first. If I don’t like it, it goes in the trash. So be nice.)

The internet should be a place for opinions and discussion. It shouldn’t be a place for bad behavior. Don’t assume you know someone from reading one thing they have written. Or twenty. Unless you actually call that person a “friend”, you don’t know them. Don’t go assuming that all people different from you are crazy, and don’t yell at people who have a different opinion. Just because you scream doesn’t mean you’ll be heard.

All I can do is keep on doing what I’ve been doing for the last 8 years. Write. I’m going to keep on writing about where I am and what I see. Hopefully some of you get something from it. People asked me what I thought of Austin, so I told them. It’s my opinion. You might have a different one and that’s rad. If that different opinion is something you are passionate about, you can tell me about it. If you tell me about it using respect I’ll even post it. If you do not use respect your opinion will not be heard. It will go in the trash. Telling someone to move out of “your” city is juvenile. Screaming about how amazing Austin was in the 90’s doesn’t do anyone any good in 2013. Name calling, and ignorant statements will be ignored.

I did have some kind folks who wrote and apologized on behalf of their city and the lovely language used by some of Austin’s finest citizens. They said thank you for sharing and best of luck for the future. It made me smile. A little politeness goes a long way. So just be nice. Even if you don’t agree with someone. You can disagree without calling someone a rude name, or sounding ignorant.

Or at least most of us can.

I’m So Over… Spring Edition

SN856851It’s that time again. Time to clean out the closets and let my readers know the stupid stuff that is getting on my nerves at the moment. And of course, to bring balance to the universe, the next post will be a Spring edition of “Things I’m Crazy About”.

  1. Allergies – Although Austin apparently fell 38 spots on the worst places in America for allergies list, it still sucks. People who don’t suffer from allergies normally will be a sneezing ball of snot after a week here. People here talk about the Spring being “amazing” because of the weather, (beg to differ) but forget to mention the constant stream of polan in the air. I have never suffered from allergies like I have here. Yet one more reason to leave Austin in my wake. 
  2. Wine is the new Cupcakecougartown_240Can someone please tell me when women in their late 30’s had a meeting to decide that wine was the new accessory of choice? It’s really embarrassing. All over my FB, (and on TV) I see women embarrassing themselves by talking about how many BOXES of wine they are going to have. And then doing it. Courtney Cox even has a show about drinking wine in your 40’s called “Cougar Town”. Yeah. I know. I for one don’t want that association. Please don’t think that all women are that silly. I don’t want to look like a 40 year old lush who uses my shitty job, my boring husband, or my wonderful children as my raison d’être. It’s not a classy look for an adult. These are the women who get together at restaurants in order to pick at salads get drunk. Oh, and talk shit about their husbands/boyfriends. I know, I used to serve them. Gross. Cut. It. Out.
  3. Pictures of your shitty meal – Maybe we could all agree that not every meal we make, buy or happen to see deserves to have it’s picture taken, hm? This goes for pictures of the inside of your freezer or what your cat ate.
  4. Austin, TX320954-austin-texasYep, not a fan. It’s funny. I have lived in a lot of different cities, states and a few countries. When I say a place doesn’t cut the mustard, I have a wealth of personal experience that it is based off of. Most of the people I have met here who “LOVE IT” have never lived anywhere else. I’m not shitting you. I hear “It’s the greatest city in the world” from people who haven’t been outside the state. It’s really frustrating to try and have a constructive conversation with folks here about the city’s vast problems because nobody wants to hear it. My fella (who is from Texas) feels the same way. This city feels dated and unwelcoming. The division between the yuppies and the rest of the population is startling. Anyway, y’all can have it. I’ll be outta yer hair next year. Til then I will keep on letting the folks of Austin know that they are behind the times on just about everything. Disagree? That’s what having your own blog is for…
  5. Guns: I think we should find a remote island. Or maybe just reclaim one of the Dakotas. But we should have a place where all of the nice freedom loving gun assholes can go live and be free with their guns. Did you hear about the little boy who shot his sister while he was PLAYING with his rifle? The rifle was a gift he received for Christmas from his family. So now… how are guns a good idea again, or is this kid another terrorist.
  6. Calling your kid “Monkey”: spider-monkey_719_600x450I’ve got news for you – Just about every parent calls their kid “Monkey”. I see it at work, I see it on FB, I saw it in Europe and I see it in the states. I see it on TV and in movies. I guess it’s not that big a deal, but I assure you, if I ever have a kid I will not call them “Monkey”. Or “Bean” that’s another popular one. People go out of their way to come up with original names for their children and then just call them “Monkey”. What a waste. For those of you without kids (Yet?) – may I suggest some of the following, less used, adorable nicknames for babies: Stinky, Tank, Gus, Chief, Speedy, or Smigel.

Better Things

austinmoversI’ve made no secret of the fact that I have had a difficult time re-adjusting to life in America. I lived in Prague for close to seven years – longer than I have lived in any one city during my adulthood. I love Prague. For me it will always be my home. You don’t spend 6.5 years in a city you hate. At least I don’t.

But I don’t think I’ve been fair to Austin, or to Texas in general. I have found that its hard for me to say nice things about Austin because, as irrational as it might be, it feels like a betrayal of Prague. I know its silly, but it doesn’t change the emotion. Since my heart belongs to Prague, how can I possibly like a city in… Texas!?

You start by not comparing the two, a sin of which I am guilty on a daily basis. It’s hard not to. My life was there – it’s what I know. Sure, what passes for “public transportation” here is more akin to four horses and a wooden cart, but it’s not fair to keep reminding Austin of that. It’s not fair to me either. The more I think about, talk about, or use Prague as a comparison, the longer it will take for me to begin enjoying my life here.

And my life IS here. I am here. The man I love is here. My job is here. I owe it to my sweetie and to myself to try harder. What I left behind in Prague are lovely memories, people, and a shit load of badass kitchen wares. I don’t see myself living in Austin (or Texas for that matter) forever, but I should probably stop grousing around like someone ran over my new kitten. Nobody forced me to leave Prague, I made that choice. And it was the right one. I can’t forget that either. Genesis was right, it isn’t any fun being an illegal alien.

The plan is a simple one, in theory: Stop complaining about Austin. It’s not that bad. Sure, folks around here are super fat, its hot year round, and its full of college kids. But guess what? There is more to a city than the negative. And Prague had PLENTY of negative! For example, have you ever ridden a Prague bus in the summer? It stinks like old man, beer, and piss. And probably not from one person either. Or how about those super rude folks that work… um… everywhere in Prague? And if its hot in Austin year round, then its fucking cold in Prague for at least 6 months out of the year. I ain’t kidding. And it gets dark at about 4pm. It’s a bummer.

In short, I am going to do my darndest to give this city a fair shake. Or at least a fairer shake. I mean its “winter” here and I wore shorts today. Cool! It’s not a contest. I’m a traveler. And a traveler needs to be open and accepting of new cultures. Even if the new culture is in Texas.

In An Alternative Universe…

  • People who wanted to have kids would have to pass a psych evaluation before they actually had kids.
  • Ryan Gosling is on every stamp because he is just so damn good looking.
  • People carry around small, hand held buzzers that make the sound of a “strike” on Family Feud. This device is used to stop pretentious people from talking about their organic gardens, children, college glory days, and new restaurants that you just have to try.
  • Someone actually makes a time machine out of a DeLorean and travels back in time in order to stop “Back to the Future 3” from being made. A statue is made in their honor.
  • Men are forced to play football in speedos, tank tops and knee socks. With no pads. So it is “sexy” to watch. Men need to be sexy at all times no matter what they are doing.
  • George W. Bush never became President, instead he dedicated his life to consuming fried chicken, and collected Simpson’s memorabilia to the point that he needed to get a second home just to accommodate it all. He appeared on an episode of Hoarders.
  • There is no “gay” or “straight” just people.
  • Women make decisions for themselves and are not undermined. 
  • Texas is an island unto itself … kind of like New York in “Escape From New York”.
  • Episodes of “Jersey Shore” are shown in classrooms as part of a “Scared Straight” program.
  • People in Austin realize that they can lead the same “hippy” lifestyle without the heat, mosquitoes, and rednecks and thusly migrate en mass to San Francisco. This forces San Franciscans to be open to new people in their beloved city.
  • Oakland is overtaken by Hipsters.
  • Teachers make more money than Pro athletes. And actors. Combined.
  • In an attempt to help Americans have a broader world view, it is a requirement for all Americans to spend at least one year in a non english speaking country.
  • It is also required for all Americans to work in the service industry for at least 6 months.
  • There is no death penalty. People face life in prison without parole, and eight hours of every day is spent watching reruns of “Small Wonder”. This deterrent is so effective that it becomes a law in every country. Ever. Murder ceases to be a problem.
  • All school text books are written by a team of thirteen people. They are of mixed race, creed, religious affiliations and whatnot. They are sworn to truth and diversity.
  • All people with full time jobs are given a paid summer vacation of up to two months.
  • All national anthems are replaced by a “Universal Anthem”. This is it: 

Positively Texas

My blog gets both criticized and praised equally for being a tad on the “negative” side. Maybe not negative per se, but I do like to point out obvious flaws or total lameness when I see it. I don’t think there is anything wrong with humorously attacking a presidential hopeful for their outdated or bigoted views, or calling out folks when they act a fool. Those are just a couple of examples, but it’s what I do. And most folks seem to like it or lump it. I figure by exploiting the negative junk the positive stuff rises to the surface. Like a Cheerio in milk.

That being said, I don’t think I have given Texas a fair shake. In fact, due to my upbringing and conditioning in California, I think I hated Texas before I even got here. And my friends didn’t help the situation. The news that I was leaving Prague for The Lone Star State was not met with overwhelming support or cries of “Good for You!”. Instead what I got was disdain. A few of my American friends said things like, “Really? Why?”, or “Seriously? Well, if that’s what you want…” accompanied by eye rolling. Gee thanks. Starting over in a new place sight unseen isn’t very easy, but it is even harder when people are constantly and consistently telling you how much you will hate it when you get there.

So, in an effort to be positive and to not let the haters get me down (’cause we all know that haters gonna hate) here is a list of a few things I actually like in Texas.

  1. The Food

    Hubbell & Hudson burger and sweet potato fries

    I think after six years in the Czech Republic I had forgotten what good tastes like. Well, I was reminded pretty quick when I had a hamburger that was cooked properly, ice cream that was think, creamy and delicious, and of course some mexican food that was actually prepared by Mexican people with real mexican ingredients. Sure the hamburgers at Whataburger & Sonic gave me the urge to purge pretty much instantaneously, but it’s my fault for eating fast food in the first place.

  2. Cool shit to do – Did you know that there is a bowling alley here in Austin that hosts Sing-A-Longs every Tuesday? Did you also know that tonight is a Buffy Musical Sing-A-Long?! I know! And that is just the beginning. There is a cool movie theater (somewhat like the now defunct Parkway Speakeasy) that hosts cool movie nights with themes and dressing up, and regular movies but you can get good food and beer while watching. Check it out! 
  3. The People – With the exception of a few dickheads, most of the folks I have met here have been really nice. Even the homeless lady that bummed a smoke off me the other day was super polite and asked how I was handling the heat. Our realtor was a super chill surfer dude who spent time in Guatemala teaching kids to kayak, and I have even had more than one pleasant encounter with checkers at grocery stores – something that rarely happened to me in Praha.
  4. The Museums – My favorite museums  in the world are located in London and NYC. Duh. Of course they are. Prague was lame for museums, and I really didn’t have high hopes as far as Texas was concerned. Boy was I wrong! The Houston Museum District is pretty bad ass. There are a ton of museums and galleries that you can see… and see for FREE on Thursdays! I went to the Fine Art museum & The Menil Collection and I had a great time. I forgot how nice it is to walk around a museum, look at some good art, make fun of the not good art and then head to the taco truck for some food.

So, how was that? Pretty good huh? Yeah, Texas is fucking hot and humid and miserable at times, and the bugs here are assholes but that doesn’t have to be the cumulation of my experience here. And I have winter to look forward to! A snowless winter that doesn’t last 7 months might be just what the doctor ordered.


5 Truths about “King of the Hill”

I have always liked the show “King of the Hill”. It is witty and clever, and if I am going to be perfectly honest here, it is really all about Bobby Hill. Right? I love Bobby Hill and I wish he was a real kid I could hang out with. Sure Hank is alright, and Peggy is this weird combination of feminist and conservative homemaker, but the love lies with Bobby. What I didn’t know was that most of what you see on this little cartoon is based in fact. Something this California girl who spent most of the last ten years in the Czech Republic couldn’t have possibly known.

  1. “Whataburger” is REAL! – Who knew? Apparently people in Texas, that’s who. I had always thought that the goofy named burger joint was made up specifically for the show. Kind of how “Red Apple” cigarettes were made up by Quentin Tarantino so he didn’t have to pay money to the real cigarette people. But I was wrong! This is a real fast food place that is found mostly in Texas and a few other southern states. In an episode where Bobby signs up for a 5k (and of course doesn’t run it) he receives an official Whataburger sweat band. Irony is cool. In real life these burgers are pretty awful, so I’ll stick to watching cartoon characters eat them.
  2. Those rednecks hanging out by the fence drinking beer? Yeah, people really talk like that – I figured that most of it was exaggeration for TV, like the way TV always makes people from L.A. skinny and have big boobs when in reality they are just as fat and regular boobed as the rest of the country. I have come to find that people from Texas (okay, SOME people from Texas) really talk like Hank, Boomhauer, Dale Gribble and the gang – and sometimes various combinations thereof. People actually say “I tell you what” without a sense of irony at all, and they hardly open their mouths at all when talking. It’s weird.
  3. Arlen, Texas is fictional – I guess this one is my fault, but Americans are notoriously bad when it comes to geography. Espically geography of America. But I checked and there is no Arlen, Texas.
  4. There is Texas paraphernalia all over the place – I addressed this discovery in an earlier blog entitled “The Odd Phenomenon in Texas“. Who else but Peggy Hill would have a Texas shaped clock in their kitchen? Answer: Just about everyone in Texas.
  5. Luanne’s hair is pretty darn accurate, I’ll tell you what After only a few weeks in Texas I have come to the conclusion that Texas is solely responsible for keeping the hairspray industry afloat all these years. I have never seen such wind resistant, and decade resistant hairstyles in all my life. See that sectioned off portion of Luanne’s hair? That happens! People tease this shit out of the bangs and form some sort of weird canyon in the middle with the use of a gallon of hairspray. The result is both fascinating and unsettling at the same time. They have a saying in Texas, “The higher the hair, the closer to god.” Lucky for me neither me nor my hair care to reach that high.

The Odd Phenomenon in Texas

I’ve been in Texas for almost a week and I have come to the conclusion that Houston is pretty much like Southern California. There are big freeways, everyone drives SUV’s even if they don’t need to, folks live in nice homes or condos in the suburbs, and if you want to do something fun you need to drive to it. Not really my style.

I noticed something else that isn’t really my style. I noticed a phenomenon that I have not seen anywhere else in all of my travels. People in Texas desperately want you to know that they are from Texas. They achieve this by doing one (or all!) of the following: Hanging a Texas flag in front of their home and/or business. Painting their mailbox like the Texas flag. Fixing a huge “Lone Star” to the front of their house. Incorporating the words “Texas” or “Lone Star” into their business name. Designing the logo to look like the flag of Texas. Using key chains, bumper stickers and yard signs with “Texas” on them, or simply in the shape of the state itself.

It’s weird. Everywhere I go I see TEXAS. Sure, you see the “I (heart) NY” logo in NYC, but not all over people’s homes. That stuff is for the tourists – not the locals. In fact now that I think about it, I have no idea what the NY state flag even looks like. (Perhaps the Statue of Liberty holding her Manolo Blahniks while hailing a cab?) You don’t see it in California either. I lived in Cali for thirty some years and I never once saw any state pride paraphernalia in any home or business. Thank goodness. It’s pretty fucking tacky. Oh, and it just doesn’t happen overseas. The only time europeans get excited enough to bring out a flag is when football (read: soccer) is involved.

So why are people from Texas so weird? Why do they feel the need to remind the world that they are from Texas? Why does every business, car, and home need a Lone Star decal? How long before they force me to get one? Should I be nervous about the water?

Maybe Austin will be a little different. Maybe the folks in Austin have better things to do. I’ve heard that Austin is hip and cool and that people there fancy themselves hip and cool. Kind of like San Francisco or Portland. In SF you don’t go around telling people you are from there, you just assume they know because you are cool and you have ten pairs of skinny jeans. Duh. Maybe Austin will be the one city in Texas that can rise above the need to display it’s colors like a peacock.

Or maybe they’ll issue me a Texas beer cozy as I pass the border.

One of us. One of us. One of us…