One year later – an editorial

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One year ago today, we pulled out of our driveway in Wellsboro, and started the 1,600 mile drive to Houston. I wrote an editorial for the Houston Chronicle about the last year and how Houston is different from Wellsboro.

I have included the link, and a copy/paste version of the text below.

http://www.houstonchronicle.com/local/gray-matters/article/To-Houston-from-Wellsboro-Pa-population-3-326-11526896.php

 

I’ve discovered the wonder that is Buc-ees. I’ve photographed bluebonnets in spring, and I’ve eaten my way through multiple flavors of Blue Bell.

Since moving to Houston last August, I realized that everything truly is bigger in Texas (except for our one-bedroom apartment.) I moved from Wellsboro, Pennsylvania, home of the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, population 3,326.

We moved because my husband is pursuing a graduate degree at the University of Houston. Imagine my surprise when I realized that the amount of students at the university (more than 40,000) is around the same amount of people in our rural county.

Coming here has been like living in a completely different world. There are so many city-related things that are a part of anyone’s day that I would have never given a second thought before.

For one thing: Traffic reports. They’re on the news every morning! The only traffic I had to worry about was the occasional bear and deer running across the road. I would sometimes get stuck behind a truck going 40 miles per hour, but here I realize that you’re lucky to be going that fast any given day on 610.

I’d much rather stay home than try to battle other drivers if it’s more than a 10-mile drive, a far cry from being used to driving hours all over the northeast.

And the noise. Not only the noise of the 10 or so lanes of traffic right outside our door, but the sounds of planes and helicopters constantly overhead. I had not seen an airplane overhead in the 10 years I was in Pennsylvania. My husband constantly has to repeat himself if he talks to me outside our apartment, because I cannot hear him over the rows and rows of air conditioners that are consistently running.

The loudest thing I have ever heard, without a doubt, was the fighter jet flyover during the Super Bowl. We live close to NRG, and it rattled the whole place. The cats ran under the bed.

And the many options … for, well, everything. How do Houstonians even choose? Where to go, what to do, what to eat, where to shop? It’s all mind-boggling at times. We visited more stores in the first week of being in Houston than in years of living in Wellsboro. The first time I went grocery shopping, I had an anxiety attack.

It’s the worst with restaurants. There are so many options here for each cuisine, and a lot of it’s unfamiliar territory for us.

I remember trying crawfish for the first time. I am a picky eater, and I kept finding excuses not to try it.

But it was the season, and I found a restaurant hosting a crawfish special for $7 a pound on Wednesday and Thursday evenings, perfect for my work schedule — and my frugality.

My husband and I tried to prepare ourselves in advance by watching YouTube videos on how to open them, but they left us more puzzled. You really have to suck the fat out of the heads?

But we got there, and the platters were put in front of us. We asked our waiter for good measure how to open and eat them, but he just chuckled and walked away.

We eventually figured it out after consulting the internet once again on our phones. The crawfish, along with the corn on the cob and potatoes, were excellent, but my lips were burning so badly by the spices that I was crying at the table.

I do miss Pennsylvania, at least some of it. I miss homemade maple syrup, and I miss the mountains, especially in the fall with the bright foliage. I miss making trips to the Mennonite general store.

But I feel like Texas, with all of its hustle and bustle, is where I am meant to be.

Go Texan Day

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Go Texan Day is the Friday before the Houston Rodeo starts. There was an outfit contest at work, so I had to participate. I don’t need an excuse to wear my cowboy boots!

This is an explanation of Go Texan Day that was provided by the local country radio station, The Bull:

“Go Texan Day happens the Friday before the Rodeo Houston Parade kicks off… and the entire population of our great city of Houston dresses like a buncha TEXANS! In 1954, at the time, the President of Rodeo Houston, Archer Romero made it official… and as Texans… we say THANK YOU!! In a nut shell… it’s intended to get everyone FIRED up for the WORLDS BIGGEST RODEO! Since then… most of the entire state has adopted the holiday… God Blessed Texas!”

I can totally get on board with this local holiday!

Here is the photo that was taken of us at work:

Go Texan Day

The guy and the girl on the far right won best dressed cowgirl and cowboy. The girl in the middle of the front row, next to me, won most creative, but that was because no one else wanted to go up against her! Her only resources were cardboard boxes and paper, but she created a hat, vest, boots and a horse!

Here is a photo of just me:

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Houston Marathon

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I had a bit of a weird moment happen to me this morning. The Houston Marathon was today. I was watching the coverage on the news before I left work this morning. I heard them talking about the route, and they echoed multiple times to CHECK YOUR ROUTE if you need to head out for anything. Silly me, I didn’t think to check if I would be effected.
So I’m driving to work, and I approach the light just before my office. I see a bunch of runners going past, along with some police cars and barriers. Uh oh! So I get back on the highway, go one exit up, with the intention of coming back around. Turns out that road is blocked too!
I tried not to panic, and eventually I realized that I could just take the road in that I take to leave the parking lot when I go home, which was one turn before approaching the blocked off road. I wish I could say that I realized this route right away, but I never claimed to be good with directions. I made it to work 10 minutes late. Not bad.
All morning long I watched the runners pass by the windows, and just thought that it was interesting that I live in a city that hosts a popular marathon. I knew about the NYC marathon and Boston marathon, but I never realized Houston had one. This would have never been a problem if I hadn’t had to work Sundays, but no matter what the day, I wouldn’t have had to deal with something like this back in Wellsboro. Sure, we had a bunch of races, but lots of them were on designated trails, in the canyon and forests!!!
Just something new to have to think about!

I got a job!

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After ten weeks of being in Texas, and applying to over 75 jobs, I finally was hired, and not a moment too soon either.

I am a paginator for Houston Community Newspapers. Paginator means designer. I will be designing a group of weekly community papers. The Houston Chronicle (the largest newspaper in Texas!) recently acquired HCN. So technically, I work under the Houston Chronicle Media Group umbrella.

I’ve been here for little over a week, and it’s been good so far. Everyone is friendly and they have been helpful. There are a large amount of newspapers that need to go out every week, so the pagination takes up 3 and a half days of my work week. The other day and a half I will be gathering up and compiling press releases, calendar of events, etc. I will also be reporting a bit when time allows.

I attended a new employee orientation yesterday morning. The group watched a short YouTube video of the history of the Hearst Corporation (the corporation that owns the Chronicle.) I had this moment of awe, because I remembered learning about William Randolph Hearst (founder) in my earliest journalism classes. I’m pretty luck to have gotten such a job.

Getting a job was the last piece of the puzzle for us to get settled in, and I’m glad that we can both settle into a routine now.