I love making lists. After six-ish months, these are my favorite and no-so-favorite things about The Lone Star State, in no particular order.
1. bible belt-There are churches every five feet and even people who are not really Christians are somewhat familiar with it. It is not strange for someone to talk to you about Jesus. The other day, I had a flyer, in Spanish, for a church and how to be a Christian, under my windshield wiper.
2. Football-It is ridiculous. If you want to play a spring sport, instead of spring ball and weights, you won't even be on the team by Fall, let alone sit the bench. Everything you hear about the culture of Texas football is an understatement. Last year a local high school opened their $60 million dollar stadium and we went for a game.
3. Diversity and Spanish-Most of the classes I sub for never have more than two or three white kids. There's obviously a large Hispanic population but there is also significant numbers of African-Americans, Asians and Indians as well. I'm totally jealous of the diversity these kids grow up with. And I love speaking Spanish everyday in class.
4. Genghis Grill/Which Wich-These are my two new favorite restaurants, founded by the same guy, in Dallas. Any other Mongolian grill restaurants are rip-offs. And the menu is on the Which Wich bag, so after checking exactly what you want, you never even have to speak to worker in the shop. I found my new Headwest........
5. 75 mph speed limit-In between Texarkana and Dallas, you can make decent time doing 80 and you don't have to worry that you are speeding.
6. No State Income Tax
7. geckos/cacti-If there were still just white-tailed deer and cardinals, I'd be disappointed.
8. weather-Nine-ish months a year, the weather is awesome. It was 75 this week. It's January.
9. relatively low cost of living-You always hear about the high prices of gas and things, in California and Chicago and New York. Not here. And WalMart is still WalMart. ALDI is still ALDI.
10. Home to- Pantera, Memphis May Fire, Adrian Peterson,
And of course, the Not Top Ten:
1. Texas Pledge of Allegiance-It is actually required that students stand up and say the pledge to the Texas flag. My first day subbing, they said this after the regular pledge and I was like, 'what the heck is going on.' I thought it was a joke.
2. Texas history class-For some reason I don't remember learning about Illinois history back in the day. Maybe because Lincoln is US history too. Anyways, I love my new state, but I would say it's borderline brainwashing. I was thumbing through one book, and I'm not making this up, it said that Christopher Columbus came to the New World looking for Texas.
3. State Inspections/Welcome Tax/Tollways-It is required for all drivers to get routine car inspections to cut down on the emissions. Apparently Texas was fined by the EPA for that. Basically all they did for mine was plug a fancy OBD system up. They charge you a $90 License plate change ‘Welcome to Texas Tax.' Really? And the tolls. The North Dallas area is definitely a more affluent and that happens to be where all the tolls are. They are very expensive so I always avoid them. One time we went to a Rangers game and it cost more in tolls, there and back, than the ticket for the game. And if you don't have a tag, they will take a picture of your license and send you the bill, which will be more expensive. I used to take President George Bush Turnpike to work sometimes:
4. turn signals/Dallas Traffic/school zones-It's like clockwork. Whenever someone changes lanes in front of me, they never use their turn signal. And I shouldn't complain about traffic, especially since it's not really a problem where I'm at. It's to be expected but compared to what I'm used to it's terrible. I had training downtown one time and it took me over an hour to get home, which was like 12 miles at the time. It is beyond me how people choose to do a commute like that everyday. And in Texas people actually slow down in school zones. I understand it, it's just not my favorite when there's only one big main road where you are going and there is a school every quarter mile.
5. Texas pride-I've gotten used to it. Most of them don't even know they are doing it. Texas is pretty great and enjoyable, so most of it is on some level, dare I say it, justified. But it still will wear you out. Sometimes students or friends will start in on it, and I'll cut them off, 'have you ever even lived or even been anywhere else? How do you even know?' More often than not, no, they haven't.
6."Winter"-It is amusing how people here handle any kind of precipitation or cooler temperatures. Luckily I was gone when it snowed in December. I can't even imagine people here trying to drive in that, especially after seeing them drive in the rain. In November I was running/training for my Turkey Trot race on a park path. It was beautiful 58 degrees, like perfect for doing anything athletic. I'm passing these people in light coats, gloves and stocking caps. It was so weird. And what the heck is a freeze warning? I was confused the first time I heard the term. They act like nearing 32º is like watching for funnel clouds.
7. Cowboy fans-If you make fun of Tony Romo, they'll be all over you. But they can rag on him all they want. Just like a parent to their kid. Once again, I chose to live here, so I'll deal with it.
8. Summer- It seriously is sweltering. When I first got here, I was like, 'why the heck would anyone choose to live here?' I realized later that the awesome weather the rest of the year makes it worth it. But during that time, super high AC bills and sweating on your way to work and after you take a shower at night, is no fun at all. But I do have to admit, you get used to it a bit.
Whatever your hands find to do, do it with all your might…