My Love Hate Relationship With Our State Capital

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I was in Austin this weekend helping my friend, Angie, finish her final packing for her move to San Francisco. She’s been out there for a few weeks, but this was her last trip back to move her stuff.

While there, I realized that I have a love hate relationship for the city that I called home for one year of my life.

Austin is most definitely a beautiful city. It has a cool, indie vibe that is nice at times in contrast to big commercial city like Houston.

I like the live music venues and I like the bodies of water. I like the hills and there are good places to eat.

But, there are major drawbacks.

For one, the traffic in Austin sucks. I don’t care what you tell me about Houston traffic, I hate Austin traffic more. At least in Houston, we have a little thing called “alternate routes.” I mean, I was in what would be late afternoon traffic on a weekday in Houston at 4:30pm on a SUNDAY! Why? Because the city only has one major freeway.

Everyone gets stuck on the big thoroughfares and have no place to go. Sure, you can take other roads, but most of them are winding with tons of lights. In Houston, I can find at least 2 or 3 alternates for every major road way.

Also, what is with you drivers in Austin? Everyone drives like they have no place to be. Doing 20 in a 50 is just annoying, not to mention dangerous. And, if people aren’t driving slow, they are driving lost seemingly with no sense of direction. But, that could be attributable to the fact that Austin has streets that dead end…into themselves!

Seriously, you can come to an intersection going west where the other side of the street in ONLY eastbound and you both have to merge onto a street going only north. WTF?

I’m not saying Houston in perfect in this regard. There is bad highway construction, tons of cars, inattentive drivers and roads that change names. But, I find I can avoid most of that when necessary. Seems like there is no avoiding it in Austin.

But, the most significant annoyance for me is the totally overt level of pretntiousness in that town. It’s like a commune. Everyone is too hip and too sensitive and oh-so enlightented.

Now, I have a number of friends there who absolutely don’t fit this bill. And I know others who kinda do, but aren’t annoying to me at all. But, there are an awful lot of tattoo-sporting, Birkenstock-wearing, new age, rockabilly, funky, tree hugging liberals who will lash out at you for being too mainstream because you drive a truck or live in a city full of pollution.

I almost long for the days when people in Houston ask, “Why the hell are you a vegetarian? Are you a hippie or something?” At least then I realize that I’m dealing with someone who is not all that intillegent with a mind closed to any possibility that doesn’t include his/her own narrow vision of the world.

But, if I’m talking to someone with a college education (mostly post-bachelor educations, mind you) who professes to be open minded and enlightened by the world telling me that my beliefs are crazy because they aren’t weird enough? Come again? Apparently, open minded only counts if the mind is open in your direction, eh?

Plus, there is this whole notion that Austin is weird. What, because people ride bikes and have tattoos? Dude, weird is the east end of Houston near the ship channel or the Montrose during gay pride week or the 5th ward. Austin is just a bunch of over-educated white people living the lives of weathly, fuel-concious-SUV-driving bohemians.

And, of course, I’m going completely overboard. I know plenty of folks in Austin I like. But, just as the rednecks and oil barons give Houston a bad name, the hippie funksters make Austin more annoying than it should be.

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