Monday, July 21, 2008
The annoying stuff first: two churches in every block, mostly Baptist (the parking lots of which rival that of the Rose Bowl, and they have city cops direct traffic before and after services); opaque covers over magazines that show too much skin in grocery stores; the only talk radio station has Limbaugh, Hannity and Ingraham; humidity; libraries charge .50 for a hold on a book (budget too small); movie theaters ID anyone under 25 lest they get exposed to sex in R-rated movies (violence--Batman--is ok, of course); the cable service doesn't supply an automatic screen saver on Pause for my LCD monitor; no Trader Joes or IKEA; the YMCA doesn't give away T-shirts for achieving the fitness levels (I earned white, yellow and red in SoCal); many restaurants not open on Sunday, the library and the Y not open until 1:00 (you're supposed to be in church, dammit); my first electric bill was $96 because of air conditioning (headed for 100 degrees for the first time today); humidity; pretty lame Mexican food (white cheese in the enchiladas; cross-eyed stares followed by compliance when I ask for shredded beef in my tacos); the Sierras are too damned far away.
The good stuff: no traffic; you can get anywhere in 15 minutes; lovely rolling hills surround the town (locals call them mountains but this MountainMan knows better); lovely neighborhoods everywhere (even the Projects are nicely landscaped); enough competition to keep prices in line, especially in restaurants; wonderful grocery stores (I was surprised); no traffic; most people are polite and kind (my 84-year old neighbor invited us over for pecan pie the other night); the NASA Space Center (the House That Von Braun Built) is spectacular, thus every possible high tech industry is here--including some from Japan and Korea--which yields the stat that this town has more PhD's per capita than anywhere in the country, thus many Saabs, Range Rovers, Beemers, Mercs, Lexi--and Toyotas galore (unfortunately, many of these guys wear shorts and boat shoes without socks, which is only marginally better than sandals with black socks); no traffic; a fascinating hybrid culture (see the ad for the magazine I skimmed while at the vet shop and click on the picture above to see the Brag List more clearly); a wonderfully relaxed pace--ain't no hurry and it's too damned hot, anyway, though I AM adapting and no longer yell Whoof! upon walking outside; no traffic; a fine, cohesive choral community to which Erin has already been warmly welcomed and that I may come to know also; no traffic; a beautiful new 4-plex, single story condo that in LA would have cost three-four times what we paid for it (LA around here stands for Lower Alabama--a vastly different region from Northern Alabama)--I love my new digs. A lot.
I can't describe the disbelief, scorn, pity, derision, and mute stares I encountered when announcing this move while still living in California. No surprise, I suppose. I was a cosmopolitan, educated, intelligent Liberal from somewhere else.
To my delight, I still am and have encountered quite a number of kindred folk here--many of them not even gay (!)--and will have no lack of spirited, like-minded discussions, with the only real bone of contention being the relative merits of Pac-10 and SEC college football. I suspect I will encounter more as time goes on. In short, I really like it here, and
I'm glad I came.