Wednesday, May 10, 2006

I Mess With Texas, Part 13

And so, I went to Texas.

Mind you, this was back in April, and I've been slacking a bit. Needless to say, the place didn't disappoint. There was at least one full display indicating that the absence of Texas-messing was, in fact, a cottage industry. I also saw one yo-yo -- a tourist, mind you -- wearing such a shirt.

But that said: This was Austin. And because of Austin, Texas can be temporarily forgiven much. I liked Austin, sensed I would. It relies heavily on music -- not arrogance -- for identity, the state capitol is held hostage there, and again: From what I found, there was just the one yo-yo and the one display of Texan ego worship. With more time, I might have found more, but what I found more extensively were people who said "hello" to you on the street, interesting shopping opportunities...

And racks for the tired biker -- affixed to the front of buses. Agreed, you have to hope the bus doesn't ram anything or anyone, but this is a nice touch you just don't see in New York. It also promotes biking, which is always a good thing.

The capitol building is quite efficiently lovely. I remember standing where I took this photo, though, asking Larry if this part of the world was naturally this green, or just the result of a lot of extra watering. He said the latter. I got peeved, but didn't say so: What could be more boring than eco-consciousness without an outlet? Should I care that the desert has been made oasis? Probably not. We went inside the capitol, and I got a tour while Mom and Larry waited. (Too much walking for them.)

Texans are very excited to be in Texas. I mean, extremely pleased. Even in Austin. Everything possible reminds you that you are in Texas, from the stars engraved/etched/painted/indicated on just about every piece of public property...

To the lights. This light (look closely; each set of bulbs spells out a letter in "Texas") is inside the capitol, either the representatives or senate side. Probably both.

With some free time, Mom and I went to nearby Georgetown, which bills itself as the Red Poppy Capital of the World, as well as being the county seat. (Which explains all of the lawyers offices around.) This picture was taken around midday, during the week. Can you almost feel the tumbleweed approaching? It was that quiet. The place was cute, and had lots of trendy country-style shops and used/antique stores, and I can be quite happy in both. Interestingly, this part of the world had/has a lot of Czech and German immigrants, so the antiques and used remnants have a very different flavor than I'm used to, from Maryland and New York experience. But I liked Georgetown, despite the empty feeling.

And then there's Round Rock. Craig lives there; Mom and Larry are in the neverendingly-hilarious Pflugerville. (We spent the weekend adding "p" and "f" sounds to just about everything possible. So it's the Pflugerville Pfanthers, for example.) Those two "towns" may at one time have been little communities with Main Streets and hearts and minds, but they've been cannibalized by the strip malls and neverending building of air-conditioned mini-mansions (and some reasonable homes). If there was a plot of land, it either had completed houses, houses in the making, or a sign indicating it was for sale to builders, or recently sold. Or it had a strip mall. And down there, they have a glut of space to the extent that they don't just have Wal-Marts, K-Marts and Targets, they have Super Wal-Marts, and Mega Targets and Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious K-Marts. Okay, I made that one up. But after a while, the sense of overwhelming muchness becomes, well, overwhelming.

There is no poetry or sense of design in the planning and existence of such places. They grow and multiply like viruses, not even weeds. My brother was able to pick a home on the corner edge of a cul-de-sac, and has his home facing the cul-de-sac. All well and good, except when you turn into the street from the larger road, the back of the house and the fence faces you. It may be the most efficient based on the plot of land, but it just has a gracelessness that uglifies the whole structure. Which, on the whole, is not ugly itself: Like most of the other houses in the area, it has white or off-white stone for its walls, and Craig was able to customize the inside.

I love the winding staircase Kris and Craig have; I can always go for a spiral staircase. But the house -- again -- is just so ... much. The main master bathroom reminds me of a gym bathroom. A very tasteful one, but: There are two sets of showers, with two glass doors, separated on the exterior by a stone wall. It's big enough to have at least 8-10 people in the shower alone; there's also a tub that's really a jacuzzi. I'm no interior designer, but somebody should have been advising on taste here.

Whenever someone points out the closets in a house, I can't help but think how they were touted in the selling of homes in "Poltergeist." Anyway, some of the closets he has (this picture was taken in one) are larger than some New York apartments. The idea that anyone could have enough stuff to fill up this space kind of grosses me out. At the moment, they don't.

Sydney was generally quite sweet and delightful, and enjoyed her bubbles immensely. But she's not terribly social, and they're a little worried about her development: She hates playing with other kids, for example, and loud sounds continues to irk her. On the one hand, I really hope nothing's wrong, and I hope nobody makes her neurotic for nothing (I'm not into medicating every single kid for every single issue). On the other hand, a 2-year old should want to play with other 2-year olds, right? So hard to tell on these things.

But Craig loves her, so that's all that really matters.

Bottom line: Austin, thumbs up. P-ville and Round Rock: Eh. The rest of Texas: Still on the shit list.

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