A Thursday list

Rejoice! This list is not nearly so random as my last one.

Me, hubby, and the one and a half kiddo live in Houston, Texas. Technically, we live in unincorporated Harris County, meaning we have no mayor/city council/town selectment/etc., and the county is our local government aside from the government-like Independent School Districts (which is what really defines the communities in the unincorporated areas of the county). So, we live in the Klein Independent School District, and our address is Spring. But to make it less confusing, just say we live in the Northwest Houston 'burbs. Hubby and I lived about five miles away from our current house for three years after we got married. Hubs grew up in the Klein area, but I was (and still am) a Missouri girl living in a Texas world. That said, I've come to appreciate a lot about my adopted state, and this gigantic, sprawling, mega-metropolis we call home. And as we've been back almost a year now, I'm starting to remember and re-aquaint myself with some of the things I like...and don't as much.

Four things I really enjoy about living in (the Northwest) Houston (suburbs):

1. Diversity. Even out here in the 'burbs, there are a lot of people who don't look like me, or talk like me, or have the same background as I do.

2. Proximity to...a lot. There's a lot to do in Houston. A lot. Museums, NASA, concerts, theater, sports, the zoo, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, cultural enrichment, shopping, eating. If you're up for a drive, Galvaston isn't too far away, and for us, Lake Conroe or Huntsville State Park are pretty close too. I'm the first to admit that I don't take advantage of it all, but I feel lucky to have it all at my fingertips.

3. Food. Maybe I want this to be it's own category because of the crazy pregnancy appetite, but the bottom line is if you can't find delicious food in the Houston area, then you just aren't trying hard enough.

4. Confidence. Houston is not a perfect place, by any stretch of the imagination. But Houston doesn't pretend to be anything it's not, and doesn't act like it's got anything to prove. In a lot of ways, that's refreshing. Sometimes problematic? Sure. But I like that kind of confidence but not arrogance is something I appreciate in people -- why not an environment that encourages it?

Now, before you start thinking maybe I've spent too much time being brainwashed...here are four things I dislike about living in (the Northwest) Houston (suburbs):

1. It's a swamp. Seriously. Houston's population didn't take off until the invention of air conditioning. This should be a red flag, people. The climate is sub-tropical. So basically, we're talking humidity and bugs. Sure, you can grow beautiful tropical plants and year-round produce. But seriously, so. many. bugs. And sweat.

2. Sprawl. Houston epitomizes U.S. tendency for urban sprawl. This tendency isn't entirely surprising if you think about it: the U.S. is huge. The national identity was formed by people seeking freedom and space and independence. There's space...why not use it, right? So, I get why so many U.S. cities are built/designed/evolve this way, but it's not my favorite.

3. Abysmal mass transit. This is closely related to point number 2. Closer to the center of town, I think the bus system is a bit more functional and practical. And a lot of people use the commuter buses around this area. But residents in the 'burbs just don't care about mass transit. They don't need it, and they don't want it, and they wouldn't use it. I think this is a little short-sighted and narrow-minded, but I'm in the minority here.

4. Pedestrian un-friendly. Again, closely related to sprawl and transit. Thankfully, our neighborhood itself is great -- sidewalks, trees, safe pedestrian access to the elementary school, neighborhood pool, community center, and park. But once you leave the neighborhood, you're going to need your vehicle. I understand why it's that way -- this has a lot to do with that whole unincorporated county thing, as well as the whole it's-hot-as-heck-out-here -- but I adore living places where I can walk or ride a bike to at least a few things like the pharmacy, grocery store, library, and maybe a restaurant or two. I will say that there is currently a really nice paved trail that is a little more than halfway done that runs along Spring Creek not to far from us. The trail currently runs connects a few parks, shopping centers, and a public library. Not ideal, but at least there are some active-minded folks around here!