nashville observations

Nashville is everything I imagined it to be, nothing I imagined it to be, and everything in-between. There is so much coming at me all at once that I am only able to process so much at once (I think this is called sensory overload) and it is all very new, exciting, stressful, beautiful, fascinating, and every other adjective that once could possibly cram into one sentence; it’s everythingful. I could write pages on each of the following things but I think I’ll stick to keeping it shorter-than-it-could-be for the sake of documenting that it happened and so that my mind can move on to take in other things.

NATURE

TREES

There are trees and hills everywhere! And grass! Those ride-on mowers are in like every lawn. I’ve been relying on the GPS on my phone to get me places. Siri will say, “In 800 feet, the destination is on your left.” and all I see is a tree. Then, in 799 feet, BAM! Out of nowhere, there’s the grocery store.

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BUGS

Dear God, why so many bugs? I suppose the bug situation isn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be, but it isn’t as good as I hoped it might be. The cute, fuzzy caterpillar that hung out on the patio outside of my apartment was cute, but then another bug decided to eat half of him and things turned from cute to disgusting. Spiders, flying armory bugs (they look like they’re prepared for battle with like a shield of a shell, and they are the color of dirt so they camouflage real nice into just about anything), giant ants, and spiders. Did I mention there are spiders? The worst spider hung out on my balcony for a week. I only saw his web but the web took up the entire balcony. Pest control happened to be on property the other day, and when I asked the pest control guy if he could get rid of the web, he knocked it down with his little bug spray stick thingy and I saw a spider THE SIZE OF MY PALM fall to the ground.

“This spider is harmless. He only eats other bugs.” – PCG

I am not sure of this man’s credentials in which he was deemed credible to make such assessments. Did he classify cats, squirrels, and small-framed women as bugs? I’m barely convinced that thing hadn’t been hanging outside my window to scout the place for the best method of entry as it plotted to come after me directly one night as a midnight snack.

RAIN

It rains out of nowhere here! I walked into Target and it was sunny. An hour later, I exited Target and it was pouring! Buckets and buckets and buckets, like the Knott’s Berry Farm Soak City Beach House pail of water, only it took two hours, rather than two seconds, to empty. No one was phased by this event. Why? Because it happens all time. It has happened a few times now within a week’s time. Taylor Swift’s songs reference rain all the time, and I now see she is not using the word in a figurative way, she’s talking about the literal rain. Tennessee = Rain. It rains forever and always.

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The rain is very scary when I’m getting around on the freeway, but coming from the droughtland of California, I welcome it. The umbrella I bought five years ago finally has a purpose.

PEOPLE

THE OUTSIDE

People of all shapes, sizes, colors, and styles are available in Nashville. This diversity is different from what I saw in Orange County, CA.

Fashion is all over the place. You have Lululemon bottoms and you have Walmart $3 sweat pants, side by side, in line at the local Kroger.

The most surprising discovery to me is that very few people wear cowboy boots! I ventured down Broadway my first weekend in town and saw nothing but cowboy boots…I’ve since learned that’s tourist central and that, for the most part, locals wear regular shoes. I fit right in.

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There are also a lot of redheaded folks in this city! This means nothing other than the fact that I have seen more redheads this month than I had in ten years in California. It makes me wish I was a redhead more than ever. My chances of finding a redheaded guy to then procreate are high. This gives me the opportunity of at least having a child with red hair, if I myself can’t have red hair. You always want better for your kids, right? And what’s better than red hair and freckles*?

*I’d at least be able to contribute the freckles. I do have those.

THE INSIDE

People are so nice! Even if they don’t want to be nice, they will be. It sometimes comes from a place of how-my-momma-raised-me-so-I-have-to-be-this-way, but it definitely isn’t cool to act like a Kardashian, or too high and mighty to make eye contact.  I have been invited to sit at people’s tables when dining alone, been included on party invites to people’s houses that I’ve never met, and offered on-the-house drinks as a way of welcoming me to my new home city. I may just stay new forever here to keep getting this kind of polite attention. I like what I see.

ROADS

The roads are insane here. You’ll make a 90-degree right turn to then need to cut across four lanes to the left in order to merge onto the freeway, only to then need to cut across three lanes to get on the next freeway interchange, only to encounter the lane you need to end up in is closed for repairs. There are hundreds of freeways within a one-mile radius of one another so good luck with ever memorizing routes as it is literally impossible.

Surface streets, at first glance, appear to be fine alternatives to the freeway but this not true. Drive down a surface street parallel to the freeway and expect at least a one hour drive to get from your apartment to Trader Joe’s. My first week, I thought I would forever have to give up my Two Buck Chuck and plantain chips. I’ve since learned that seemingly inaccessible areas of town are very easy to get to at 8:30pm on a weeknight. Which is good because Sunday is a bad day to go to Trader Joes, or any store.

Parking is bad, but not really. If you have to pay to park, the first two hours in any lot is free. After that, the rate is around $2-4. I’ve yet to pay more than $4 to park. I am very blessed to have my tiny Chevy Spark that allows me to park among the Dodge Rams and mini vans. The backup camera in my car helps make it seem like I’m a parallel parking master.

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As far as drivers on these roads go, they are a mess. This is likely due to the 85-a-day transplants that live here, all coming from a different type of driving style. You have no idea when someone will suddenly decide to switch lanes. What is nice is that people do let you over. What isn’t nice is when the person in front of you sees the light turn yellow, they slow down instead of accelerating to make it through the light. These are things that I can learn to accept.

SUSTENANCE

ALCOHOL

You can’t buy wine on Sundays. And wine was just recently allowed to be sold in grocery stores. Forget buying liquor at Target! You can only buy liquor at a designated liquor store. If you want to buy beer on Sunday, you have to wait until 12pm. Bars, however, are open everywhere and you can start drinking as much as you want at whatever hour you want. How many bars, you ask? About as many bars as churches. In number form, roughly forty trillion.

Beer is classified into two categories: high gravity and low gravity. Most beer is low gravity, meaning its ABV is 5% or lower (well, I think?). I’d never heard such terms until moving here! Fortunately, most beers are around 5% so you can basically drink all day. I may be wrong but I think IPAs are usually higher in ABV, but out here, that isn’t the case. One of my favorite beers I’ve found, cuz I’ve sampled like four different ones so I’m pretty well-rounded in terms of knowing what classifies as beer out here, is Founders All Day IPA from Michigan. Good stuff. The craft brew section of the store has 95% new beers to try so I look forward to filling my fridge with a bunch of new drinks to try.

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2-4-1 is on nearly every menu I’ve seen so far. There are two beers for the price of one, and the one beer is only $4.50. Talk about a deal! Beer in restaurants is real cheap. Easy and cheap access to a good buzz. Cocktails, however, are not so cheap. The internet deceived me when I researched the cost of going out. I mean, a good cocktail is between $10-12, so it is cheaper than $14-16, but it is still expensive!

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There are also breweries all throughout the city. I love breweries so this is nice. Since I haven’t been exercising as much as I would like, though, it makes beer drinking not as desirable so I haven’t really been.

FOOD

Would you like some more salt with your salt? – Every Restaurant

Food is crazy high in sodium.If you order a caesar salad and add on chicken for only $2 more, you will get a giant bowl of chicken with a few lettuce leaves underneath it that appear to more be garnish than the main event. Potatoes are the main vegetable and side dish offered to every meal, in every form possible.Don’t get me wrong, I love potatoes with my whole heart. That said, I also love being able to fit into my jeans and that’s starting to be a real struggle.

Mexican food is crap. I already figured as much but I was hopeful. I live near the international road in town and there are Mexican restaurants all along the road so I gave some places a try. Long, whiney story short, I’ll stick with Chipotle for my fixes. There’s a place called Mas Tacos that is supposed to be good but I’ve yet to make it out there. There’s also a place called Bakersfield that sells tacos and tequila but the idea that the word “good” and “Bakersfield” could be associated together is too much for my mind to handle; it’s inconceivable.

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There is no shortage of food or restaurants! What is even better is only certain areas of town have chain establishments. Chances are, if you’re going out to eat, you’re supporting a small business owned by Joe and Mary Smith who put their kid through Vanderbilt because you decided to order a burger with your three beers there every Sunday while you watched the Tennessee Titans game. There isn’t a Starbucks within 15 minutes of my apartment so I have the bizarre (in a good way) need to defer to Yelp and Google to find the best spot to secure a pumpkin spiced latte. It’s super awesome.

MUSIC

Everyone has either been a musician, is a musician, or wants to be a musician. This, unlike the cowboy-wearing assumption, has proven to be true. There are all kinds of music here, it isn’t all country! I’ve discovered my favorite radio station, Lighting 100. Add it to your I Heart Radio (if they are on there, I really don’t know). It’s Nashville’s independent radio station. I find it inspiring.

There are a bunch of free open mic nights about town. These events are probably my favorite thing about Nashville so far. I find it crazy inspiring and admirable that these people get up on stage, play a song they’ve written, put themselves out there, soul fully exposed, in front of strangers and familiar faces. Some are just looking to tell their story. Others are on a mission for fame and fortune. No matter their tale, I love to hear it. And I hope to soon join them on stage to make either a fool, or even a name, for myself.

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I love the musicy-ness of everything here. My gym is called CrossFit Forte. My apartment model has a Ryman (like the Ryman Auditorium) layout name (the name is where the similarities end, if that wasn’t already clear in your mind). There are other examples but I’m getting tired of this subject, which means you probably are too, so I’m going to move on.

RESTROOMS

Why doesn’t any place in Nashville stock toilet seat protectors in the restrooms? And why are you lucky if you enter a stall that has a purse hook installed on the back of the half-door? The pictures on the main doorways are tricky (not your standard boy-girl, triangle-circle signage) which means I’ve walked into the wrong gender bathroom on multiple occasions. I wonder how people in Nashville feel about the whole Target transgender topic. I imagine it doesn’t matter to them at all because they’re probably used to all genders, in all bathrooms, in any establishment, at any time.

MISCELLANEOUS

TRUST

The gas station across from my apartment leaves out merchandise (cases of water, window washer fluid, maybe some other stuff) after they have already closed, with no one on duty. How are the owners not afraid of anyone stealing their goods? Is there an understood “God is watching” in the neighborhood? I am assuming there are cameras to capture any theif who tries to steal? Is the risk really that minimal of being robbed? I can’t get over this.

HOMELESS

My mom doesn’t need to know this but I do feel a little unsettled when homeless folks at every street corner walk right up to my car window when I’m at a stoplight to ask for money. I think it is also just different than what I had experienced in Newport Beach/Costa Mesa/Irvine because such practices were immediately addressed there, whereas here, that’s not the case. I don’t know how to deal with it and so I just keep my eye on the light and sing Taylor Swift tunes to myself until I get to move again, and make sure to not hit any of the people who feel it fine to walk out into the middle of the road during a green light. My heart does go out to these souls who are in need. It is difficult to process this new experience and I hope to figure out how to handle it sooner than later as I face it on the regular. If I went with my heart, I would’ve already given all my money to the guy at the corner of the road with the left turn only (and, by the way, where you can make a left on a red…it blows my mind every time) as I make my way to the gym. I think of Jessica Day every day.

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GROCERY STORES

Grocery shelves are rarely stocked. It looks like there was a storm alert and the aisles were raided in preparation for months of hibernation when it’s actually just another Tuesday afternoon. And when it is stocking time, you may as well be at a high-stakes Walmart. Pallets are in the middle of the aisles and everyone seems to be in competition with one another on who can stock their area faster. It makes for a very overwhelming and stressful shopping experience. I guess it does have its advantages as I get out of any store, as soon as I see that going down, as fast as possible, and save a bunch of money by not buying the things I went in to get in the first place.

GRAVEYARDS

There are so many cemeteries here! Along with them comes a bunch of funeral homes, and hearses. Are there that many people dying here on a regular basis? Why are they all buried right in the middle of town? It is eerie to take a quick warm-up run through a graveyard. Is it disrespectful? I feel like I need to stop and take a moment to remember the souls around me and all that they gave during their time on earth. I am constantly being reminded of my mortality. A simple 400-meter warm-up jog takes a deep existential turn real quick. I guess it is a good thing there are so many churches, essentially one on every corner. Life is short an Nashville makes sure to remind me of this more often than I would like.

SMOKING

You can smoke in bars here. You can smoke right outside of businesses. I’m officially a second-hand smoker. This may be my least favorite thing about Nashville.

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That’s all I got for now. Is anyone even still reading at this point? Probably not.

 

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