Tuesday, May 29, 2007

"I'm Fixin' To": An introductory Guide to Texas

From May 9th-14th, I visited the Lone Star State. The intent of this trip was to meet Clay's family and attend Clay's sister's college graduation from Abilene Christian University. This was only my second trip to Texas ever. (The first trip was last October for the Youth Specialties' Convention in Austin, when I met Clay.) So--this was my first real immersion into Texas culture.

To capture an entire state in one blog based on a 6-day visit seems rather ridiculous...so I'll merely give you the Texas Top 5...which is definitely the Top 5 conclusions I deduced about Texans based on my observations of the state.

  1. Texans love their state flag.

    Seriously...I'm telling you...the state flag is everywhere and on everything. My absolute favorite Texas- flag- themed item I saw for sale was this snazzy desk chair in Abilene. Who would not want to sing Deep in the Heart of Texas everyday at work when sitting in one of these?!

    While eating lunch in Fredericksburg, TX, I swear to you I saw no less than a hundred Texan flags hanging from businesses on the main drag. I suppose this would not seem so odd if any of the other three states I've lived in loved their flag this much. But Texas is the only state I know of that has a Pledge of Allegiance to its state flag, so at least there is consistency to the passion.

    So, FYI, Texans love their state flag.

  2. Texans love their state history.

    They love it so much, that there are markers posted approximately every fifty feet that recount important historical events which may have happened on this exact spot. Here, Clay shows off the very marker that commemorates the first railroad across West Texas. It would certainly be an impressive collector's item to visit all of the significant railroad-related Texas State history markers. In fact, I have just added this to my to-do list!

  3. Texans love tortilla soup.

    I had never before in my life eaten tortilla soup, but I think I ate it once per day on my visit to Texas. When I heard "tortilla soup" I was thinking it would look like a can of tomato soup poured over top of a tortilla. This was not true. It actually looked like this. Tortilla soup is the best-dressed soup I've ever seen. It gets an A+++ for presentation and an A+++ for taste. My newest favorite food!

  4. Texans believe their state to be really, really important.

    I hesitate to be so brash as to generalize to say that Texans have a warped view of geography...but this photo from a children's book that I've loosely titled, Indoctrination to the Superiority of All Things Texan should speak for itself:

    The state is really large, this is true. I mean, in the time I can be in California, you can drive from east Texas to central Texas. But seriously, this map is OUT OF CONTROL! Look! Texas basically goes from Mexico to North Dakota and from San Bernadino to Alabama. What is going on?! This is not an accurate depiction of reality!

    Our trainer on our new database who is from Dallas claims that this is evidence of Texans poking fun at themselves. I call it infantile brainwashing! Beware!

  5. Texans are people too.

    So while in general I'm confused about the Texans' love for Texas, I enjoyed my time spent meeting and interacting with Texans. Every Texan I met was friendly and more than excited that I was visiting their state. And, they have nice accents. Also, I ate some fantastic food while I was there (ribs, BBQ, tortilla soup, enchiladas, horchata) meaning that Texans are good cooks, which speaks to my soul's core.

    It's definitely true that with all the crazy indoctrination, Texans grow up to be real people (i.e. Clay and family...although maybe I'm biased). It's also true that every state has its own quirks (i.e. Ohio's passionate love for a poisonous nut or North Webster, Indiana's Mermaid Festival or eco-friendly Seattle's aversion to mass transit).

    So I'm probably willing to let Texas off the hook if they are willing to put actual maps into their children's books and occasionally imply that there are other states besides Texas.
One thing that is not true about Texas--all of my exes do not live there. But the sage in bloom is like perfume...

Monday, May 07, 2007

To the dump...becoming an empowered woman through the transportation of trash.

My dad has this joke he used to like to tell that went like this:

Q: Where does the lone ranger go to take out his trash?

A: "To the dump...to the dump...to the dump, dump, dump!" (To the melody of the ever-popular tune...of course...)

Nice, dad...anyways...so yesterday Heidi and I cleaned out the backyard, a project she's been wanting to do since we moved in. We borrowed a truck from a local teenager and took it upon ourselves to load up the bed and haul off the garbage. (By took it upon ourselves, I mean, Heidi really wanted to do it, and I've been working hard to be more astute at "helping" people in need of assistance...so I helped. As much as scrawny-armed girls with no basic knack for manual labor are able to help in such scenarios.)

My basic job was as "The Compactor." Heidi says this gets to be my professional wrestling name...and with that name, I already have my patented move...it looks like this: {{ jump up and down on your opponent repeatedly, as hard as you can, crushing them into submission. }} This was my job description as "The Compactor," when I crushed an entire truckbed full of yard waste (tree branches, etc) into submission. This was all so that we could load up as many tree branches and as much junk as possible into the truck bed to take a huge load to the dump.

Then Heidi and I broke out the bungee cords and ratchet straps and nailed the whole thing down under the tarp, praying that tailgaters weren't taking their lives in their hands as we drove 40mph down the state highway with 4-ways flashing.

But the entire process of prepping and unloading the junk at the dump was extremely cathartic. as we pulled the junk and the tree branches (and in some cases--actual trees) into the dumpster, there was a lot of joy and singing from Heidi and I...and as we looked down into the dumpster to see our day's work successfully thrown away, we giggled and celebrated. We--two adult single women, had loaded (with the help of guy friend Mark) an entire truckbed full of junk, strapped it down ourselves, driven it to the dump, and disposed of it. How wonderful!

And the best part was that we didn't even have to do such a task on our own crying, "I'm alone!" We got to do it together and rejoice in the delights of cleaning up the backyard.

I was so motivated by our productiveness that I came home and hemmed two pairs of pants. Just call me industrious, because it was true.

And then to celebrate, we treated ourselves to Chinese Takeout and a movie. Not to mention, the already better joy of a cleaner, friendlier yard.

So...if you have never been to the dump, you deserve to go. It's cathartic, and it's useful as a metaphor for oh-so-many things... Plus, when you go to the dump, you can walk into your office on a Monday Morning singing a friendly little tune: "To the dump, to the dump, to the dump, dump, dump!"