Monday, June 4, 2012

10 Things I Hate About You

When I first moved to Nashville, TN, I hated it. Hated. Granted, I was also 9, and although my parents were in the military and we moved around a lot during the first almost-decade of my life, the only place I really remember was my hometown and birth place, Biloxi, MS. That's pronounced Bi-lucks-ee, by the way. I was perpetually thinking that my parents would get bored of it and move away (or hell, Dad would get a job in another city) and we'd continue moving every two years or so until I was able to do that on my own. 

Now, I hate Nashville less, since I lived in Murfreesboro, TN, for four years while in college, and that place is even worse than Nashville. I just really dislike towns that owe their entire existence to a university, as Murfreesboro is. I'm sure that if I'd gone to another college that wasn't MTSU, I might have enjoyed living in a college town more. But MTSU is what you'd call a suitcase school. All the big parties were on Thursday night because nearly everyone went home for the weekend, and campus was dead until Monday morning. Not that I'm a big party girl; I get very, very overwhelmed at large gatherings, but I'd at least have liked to have the option.

Anyway, lots of people have apparently moved here since my family did, all enthralled by the lack of an income tax and by the country music scene, so I am always hearing, "Oh, my GAWD, Nashville is SO GREAAAAAAT." And I'm here to tell you that, no, it is NOT. 
1) First of all, the people. Okay, sure, you can talk to random people in the check out line at Whole Foods or wherever, and most of the time, they are friendly to you. But it's that Southern hospitality and fake-kindness that really annoys me. I think that's a thing people in the South just have to live with, but I'm a fairly blunt person. If you make me mad, you know it. I'm not going to sugarcoat it and make you feel less bad about being an asshole, only to go chitter to my friends about how uncivilized you just behaved. And they also have this thing about importing other cities' traditions. Like Mardi Gras? Seriously, Nashville? We are not in the Gulf and the Catholic population is not NEARLY as big here as you'd think it is. They tried having a Mardi Gras parade one year, and it just fizzled, as it should have. Also, a lot of upscale restaurants have set up shop and are trying to New York-ify certain areas, like Midtown. I worked as a cocktail server at a bar/restaurant in Midtown, near the Vandy and Belmont campuses (which I'll address in #2), and one of the bartenders was originally from Boston but had worked for years as a bartender in D.C. He kept trying to convince me that we were doing our Irish Car Bombs incorrectly because that's not how they do it in New York (which he wasn't even from and had never visited, so what the fuck did he know?), and I was like, "Dude, we live in Nashville. Be thankful they're not yeehawing and just make it the way the customers want it. Shit." But that's an attitude that a lot of people, particularly new transplants, have tried to force upon the culture here. We live in NASHVILLE, people. NASH-VILLE. The Ville of Nash. Just stop it. 

2) Vanderbilt and Belmont have some of the most annoying students. Ever. I, in general, don't really like college students, not even when I was one. I probably hated myself, too, but I was so busy making sure that I got out of there in four years that I didn't really pay that much attention. Nearly every single parking space on either lot is occupied by really expensive cars. My college car? The first one was a 1987 Ford Escort hatchback that I bought for $600, which was actually more than the piece of shit was worth. But Spaz, the stupid thing's name, died, and my parents begrudgingly let me drive their 1999 Mazda 626, Mahgret, that was just sitting around at home because they couldn't decide if they wanted to let my sister have it or sell it. So ... they gave it to me? Yay? All on MTSU's campus were crap cars, but Vandy and Belmont? Oh, no. We're talking BMWs, Volvos, Lexuses. Because we all know how responsible kids are in college. But it's not even just that. They walk around with this air of "I came from money and I own you" that just sets me off. 

Going back to my cocktailing days, I always loved the summer because the serious students were there (and they were pretty awesome, paying their own way through school, and just being cool people) but dreaded August, and not just because of the heat. The frat boys would return from their summer interning at Daddy's firm or from vacationing in Europe or whatever rich people do and would just attack the bars. 

Once, a drunk asshole who was screaming one of the Greek letters (why did they pick Greek letters and not, like, Egyptian or Chinese? I think I'm missing a distinct part of fraternity/sorority culture here) grabbed my ass. I in turn grabbed his arm, twisted it behind him, and told him that if he ever wanted to masturbate with his good hand again, he should probably not ever touch me. I never got really good tips from frat boys, probably because I wouldn't blow them in the bathroom or something. 

3) I hate having to go into East Nashville, aka where all the hipsters live. But it has Jeni's Ice Cream and the Wild Cow, one of the only places that I can find edible gluten-free meals (their buffalo grinder is seriously one of the best things I have ever eaten and they have gluten-free pumpkin cupcakes in the fall), so I brave the crowds of deer-tattooed, ironically-listening-to-Celine-Dion assholes who ride their tall bikes and drink PBR. East Nashville used to be a very poor area, where drugs and violent crime ran rampantly in the street. I know this because a childhood friend lived there, and my parents didn't want to let me sleep over there because I once heard gunshots right outside the front door. To be fair, Mom and Dad's reluctance to allow their older daughter to slumber party it up where random bullets fly is probably a good thing, but at the time, I was just pissed. Now, though? Well, basically, all the white people were like, "Hey, let's buy all these old houses that are nearly falling down due to their being crack dens, renovate and build onto them, and then sell them at over $250,000!" And that's how it became hipster central. None of the poorer (see: not white) people could afford to live there, anymore, so they shipped out

4) Also, no one can drive. Everyone I think says this about their own cities, and it's a safe assumption that in some ways, they are probably right, but Nashville drivers apparently take stupid pills every time they get behind the wheel. They pull out in front of people, stay constantly on their cell phones or openly text and drive while on the interstate next to a cop car (actually witnessed this today). They go the wrong way down one-way only streets, and then they look at you like you're an asshole for pointing out the fact that they are driving headfirst into a string of other cars following the traffic signs. Don't even get me started on drivers on days when it is not sunny. Except that now, I'm going to expand on that, because it's something that you will hear every single Nashvillian talk about, even the ones who do it. Schools close when there's even a threat of .5 inches of snow, and I wish I were kidding about that. It's probably because they don't want all the children to die because the other people who brave the roads slip and slide everywhere. Two years ago, we got maybe an inch or two of snow, and people were getting out tire chains and shit. Granted, when it snows here, we get ice - it melts during the day and then freezes and then we all die - so I can't really be too hard on people. And that just leads me to ...

5) Weather is probably the scariest thing to people here. I'm not sure why. I mean, like I said earlier, my younger years were spent in Biloxi, which is right on the Gulf Coast, and hurricanes are just expected. You plan, have hurricane parties, and wait for the next hurricane season. But if the weather even gets slightly bad, people freak the fuck out. Snow, rain, whatever. A tornado went through downtown Nashville back in the mid-90s, and yeah, that was scary, but even now, almost twenty fucking years later, people feel wind and are like, "OH MY GOD, GET INSIDE. IT'S ANOTHER KILLER TORNADO." No. It is not. And shut off the damned tornado sirens, already. And snow? God. Dear GAWD. It's ludicrous. 

In 1994 or 1995, we had an ice storm. Power was out everywhere, and for two weeks, my family and I huddled around our fireplace to keep warm. Thankfully, my dad's a hunter and stockpiles shit in our basement, so we were covered, but there were a lot of people who were just SOL. That, I think, is acceptable to panic about. When less than a half inch of snow falls? And then melts within two hours? Please don't close down all schools and government offices. Not that I don't appreciate the administrative day off, because I do. But I also have 2300 cases in my caseload and would like to make sure that I don't come back to 96134237 voicemails about how all their food was ruined and they need replacement food stamps. 

We also had a really bad flood in 2010 that ruined a lot of downtown Nashville, thus creating the "We Are Nashville" pictures that I just found annoying. Even now, the city is rebuilding and renovating, and there was actually hope that they'd close the eyesore that is the Opry Mills Mall and reopen Opryland, the theme park that was a poor man's Disney but fuck it was fun. My favorite rides were the Screaming Delta Demon (a log luge ride that was AWESOME) or the Tin Lizzie (basically old T-Fords on a track). But the Powers That Be instead decided capitalism and outlet stores must win, so they recently reopened parts of the mall. 

6) While Tennessee is a very, VERY Republican state in general, Nashville likes to proclaim that it is a haven for Democrats, which ha. Sure. Even the Democrats are conservative, if you can imagine such a thing. You may see a bunch of Obama stickers in Green Hills, but they'll be the first people to make a scene if anyone even mentions a state income tax. Plus, we also house the governor, Bill Haslam ,who thinks that outlawing people from talking about sexual education in any way other than abstinence will bring teen pregnancy down, and oh, he also wanted to sign the "Don't Say Gay" bill, because ... why? I'm not sure what he was trying to solve there. The church is also a big part of society here. Sometimes people just go to  Sunday service because it's just what you do, right? Community! Social gatherings! And Jesus! But keep the gays out, because they make us uncomfortable. Sigh. 

The thing is, I don't have anything against Christianity. I am a Christian, after all, although I usually introduce myself as Christian-ish because it saves me from having to explain my entire belief system, which usually sends White Bread Christians into a hissy fit, trying to set up an exorcism. It's just how much of the false nature of it that seeps into so many aspects of life here. I'm not going to get too into it, since that's a whole other post entirely, but suffice to say, the way Christians here sometimes act makes me wonder if they ever even read what Christ said. 

And so now, moving on.

7) Every May, the city holds Steeplechase, a horse race, about ten minutes from where my parents live. At least, they advertise it as a horse race. To the locals, it's about beer and liquor and sundresses and elbow-rubbing with country celebrities (and you know, Nicole Kidman). Oh, and there are horses. Somewhere. I think they run around the track? And jump? Or something? Shit, who cares. Where's my vodka? And they announce it about two months in advance, letting you know that one of the main roads will be shut down the entire day so the drunk people won't run into oncoming traffic. 

8) I think the city must be run by the road-paving mafia or something because nearly every single year, roads that have nothing wrong with them get repaved. Like, no potholes, no cracks, nothing. It's mainly in the wealthy areas, though, because the roads near my work? Yeah, I don't even think they're safe to walk on. But poor people obviously don't have cars, right? Oh, that's right, they ride the BUS.

9) Public transportation sucks. It just does. I ride the bus to work some days because Three's work isn't on a bus route, like mine is. But it only goes out to certain areas, particularly where there is more poverty. A bus runs pretty consistently into Antioch and Madison and other similar parts during the day, but my part of town, which is primarily apartments and yeah, we're poor down this way, too, only gets a bus every thirty minutes from around 8A - 4P. After that, it drops off to more than an hour between buses. And that's a recent development. Before, it was even less. If I missed my morning bus, I wasn't coming into work until about 10, which depending on your take, could be a good or bad thing.

10) The main reason that #9 is so is because dear GOD Nashville is spread out. It's almost impossible to live here without a car. Getting to work aside, I hate it on days when I want to make some dinner for Three and realize that I'll have to A) walk about two miles to the grocery store and then walk back with bags of shit, or B) wait for one of the infrequent buses (particularly on the weekends) to pick me up and then be forced to hang out there for an hour or so before another bus comes to take me back home. As you can probably guess, I usually just reheat leftovers in those cases, as neither option is very welcoming. 

I'm sure, if I sat and thought about it for a while, I could probably think of some positive things to say about Nashville, but I don't really want to. Instead, I'm going to dream about living on a trawler in the Gulf of Mexico. 

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