Pre-departure, sort of

Okay, so I know this blog is about my life in Japan, but I just have to write a little about the past 2 days in Texas! For me, it’s part of the adventure.

For those of you who don’t know, we came here to see my brother off to his first year at Austin College in Sherman, a northern Texas town not far from the Oklahoma border. Other than the 106-degree heat, the place is paradise! People are SO nice. Strangers wave at us on the street (one student raised his entire arm in the air as he passed us near campus this morning). On the shuttle away from the Dallas/Fort Worth airport, a man offered his seat to me. The waitress tonight (who was younger than me) called me “baby girl” more than once.

The town looks like a movie set; most of the houses look freshly painted and have lots of trees and porches with swings. The parts that aren’t so new-looking are run-down in a romantic way. (Does that make any sense? I have this weird fondness for peeling paint and dead grass.) It seems like every other storefront is an auto body or repair shop. I guess the trucks everyone drives take a lot of maintenance!

No offense to Idaho and Utah, but when we’ve driven through those places on past family vacations, the food has been pretty disappointing. So I was astounded to find amazing food at every meal here! That Texans know how to barbecue goes without saying — but it’s not just the brisket that’s delicious. Last night I got boiled cabbage and green beans with my barbecue, and I’m pretty sure bacon was involved in the preparation of both. 🙂 Lunch yesterday was Chick-fil-A, which I’d never had before — ohhhh maaan is that place good. And cheap!

At Jake’s dining hall you pay by the meal, meaning it’s all-you-can-eat (totally foreign concept for me: at UCSD we paid by the item), and the chicken nuggets I got there were honestly the best I’ve ever had. Dinner tonight was at a Tex-Mex place that looked like this:

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So. Much. Food. It’s probably great that I’m visiting Texas before going to Japan, because it provides an experience that’s very different from either Southern California or Tokyo. For example, considering what I’ve heard about food prices and portion sizes in Japan, I may not be this stuffed again for my entire trip. 😛

However, these two cultures might not be totally different: my brother pointed out that both Texans and Japanese seem to prize politeness and hospitality. In Japan there’s the idea of honne versus tatemae: what you actually feel/think versus the public face you put on. Keeping the two separate helps to maintain social harmony. I could see this being relevant in Texas, couldn’t you? We have stereotypes that suggest that feuding Texas women, for example, are sugary sweet to each other rather than openly antagonistic.

I fly to Narita Airport tomorrow morning. I’ve never been able to sleep on planes so I expect to find other ways to occupy myself for the 12-hour flight. I’ll write the next entry from across the Pacific!

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One response to “Pre-departure, sort of

  1. Really great photo of “La Mesa”! I think it captures the atmosphere quite well.

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