- I wrote this post on the 28th, but am posting it today on the 29th)
January seems to be crawling by so slowly! I am so sick of school and am so sick of cold windy weather. This winter has not be very fun at all. Last winter was much better, as we at least had a few decent snows (it was so wonderful to be out at the farm when the snow is piled up high), but this winter it is just bitterly cold (as cold as 10 degrees this last week) with the nastiest biting wind that chills the soul and freezes my bones.
I can tell this weather is getting to me as I dreamed about Austin a few days ago. In the dream I was sitting on a slope out at Zilker park wearing a hawaiian shirt and shorts (my normal attire 9 days out of 10 when I lived in Austin). The sun was incredibly warm and the sky was SO BLUE!
In the dream I remember thinking, this is such a good day! Then… I woke up.
Of course I know my life is here now in Oklahoma and I do feel good about that, but there is no doubt about it that sometimes Austin calls to my soul. There is no doubt about it, that Austin changed me and has made me who I am. When I moved to Austin in 1997 I was a very dogmatic conservative who was scared of the big city (you’ll laugh when I say this, but I actually bought a gun during my early time there because I was nervous to be living downtown).
By the time I left Austin (Dec. 2001), I was a Green party member and a pacifist, whose job was driving a bicycle taxi all over downtown Austin from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m.
What is strange though about it all, is that to me it seems that OKC and Austin have now changed a lot. Austin as I knew it mostly in the last 90’s is dying. The activist community is not what it once was (a good example is that OKC has been having much bigger anti-war protests over the last few months than what Austin has had) and there seems to not be the same energy there once was. I’m not sure what is causing that, but I do think part of it is the both the diminishing economy (and hence less jobs for everybody, including those in the activitst community) but part of it too is the growing pro-corporate/yuppie vibe that has grown so oppressive there.
I am sure that someday Austin will come back stronger than ever but right now things are not looking good there to me.
At the same time, OKC (always competing with Nashville to be the belt buckle of the Bible belt as they say) is changing radically. Ethnic and racial diversity is now growing rapidly (OKC has one of the biggest Vietnamese communities in the region, and to me has faster growing Hispanic neighborhoods than many areas of Texas), and there is a growing insurgence of alternative viewpoints, ranging from the Gay & Lesbian community (who now have one of their folks in office as a County Commissioner if I remember right, and secured the right through litigation to display their banners on city streets during Gay pride month — btw, before you jump my case, I’m not saying I endorse homosexuality. What I am saying is that I believe they should have equal rights and protection under the law. Free speech belongs to all, even those you might not agree with all of the time.) to the burgeoning Anti-war movement (with almost daily small protests taking place along with larger actions such as the recent peace march/vigil that had 2,100 in attendance.
In a way, I think OKC is becoming what Austin was in the 1970’s – 1990’s. OKC is still backwater enough to not get the yuppies’ attention (lets cross our fingers that OKC never does get their attention) but is now developing enough of an independent vibe that cool things are happening.