Stay Beautiful

I’ve been working on a few ideas for blog entries for a while. Primarily guns. Also Joel Osteen. These entries will come. For now I just need permission to post something. Anything. This is already enough, just knowing I’m going to post this, but I’ll write some more while I’m at it, I guess.

I’d really like to write about people I know. Short biographical takes on the individuals inside my sphere of influence. Just, anyone. Give you my perspective on you. I could do this for just about anyone I’ve ever met and remember the meeting of. I form opinions very quickly, I’m judgmental as all get-out. I love a lot of people. Mostly I want to write about people I love, but since some of the reasons I love some of these people may not be considered flattering, I don’t just go ahead and write them. I’d like to have their go-ahead first. I could write without using names, I suppose, but I don’t feel like that’s fair, I’m not about to Carly Simon all over this piece, if I’m going to write a song about you I think you at least deserve to know that it is about you.

I suppose I could do it about places. Places can’t take offense, and I can name them.

San Marcos I love you but you try too hard. I don’t know where the money is coming from — is it all tuition? is this a tuition-based economy? — but you don’t have to show off. I know, capitalism has wooed you. It’s a phase, it’s happened to every school town I’ve lived in. First in my fair corner of Orlando, the engineering school money came pouring in and the school spent it faster than it could earn it and the surrounding neighborhoods had to try to keep up, new apartment complexes (isn’t that always the thing), higher rents all around, weirdly specific and overpriced sandwich shops. Columbus I showed up after the boom, they’d already razed much of the ghetto near campus and put up football-themed shopping venues, but I don’t hold it against anywhere in Ohio to take what it’s got and run with it, run it into the ground. When I was living in Oxford it was all WE’RE BUILDING A GIANT BUSINESS SCHOOL LOOK AT ALL OUR MONEY and also apartment complexes but the expansion aspect of the capitalism monster was lacking, as it’s hard enough to get anyone to move to anywhere in Ohio, much less an Indiana-adjacent corner, equidistant from the most dangerous parts of Cincinnati and scenic Dayton.

But San Marcos. Oh, you charmed me good, didn’t you. And I wasn’t even your primary demographic! No I was not big into the marijuana, as so many of your citizens and my students self-identified, but I did love the coffee shops, and you had the overpriced purveyors of sandwich but also a more reasonably priced burrito place, you had your own twist on things. And you still do, don’t get me wrong, I can’t wait to come back and visit, but here’s the crux of it: you’re good enough as you are. You’ve got the whole river thing going for you, and you’re multicultural enough that no one’s ever going to confuse you for Oxford or Iowa City, and you’ve got some history built into your bones, too. Nothing too ostentatious, like say an Alamo, as it were. It’s kind of like that blind salamander species found nowhere else on earth beyond the gaping maw of the San Marcos river, the aquifer that rises from the depths of Texas’ bowels where no living thing survives and thus nothing is carried in from elsewhere. Cool that you have your own species! 

…of blind, helpless salamander, so fragile that no one is permitted to swim in the lake for fear of disturbing its habitat. But I’d imagine that to people who are really into salamanders, well, that’s just totally boss! And, you know, it’s one of those facts that anyone can adopt as something worthy of their pride. Fuck yeah, salamanders! Why? Because I live in San Marcos, that’s why. It’s called being loyal to your team, look it up sometime.

Speaking of teams. You do not have the history or the location to support yours. Sure the Mets were only born in the relatively recent year of 1962, an expansion club, they will never be as OG as the Yankees, but they had the swell of New York City to push them into the type of fandom that can mean a kid born in Vancouver who’s never been to the city, much less the country, much less seen the ocean next to which New York sits, can become a Mets fan without raising too many eyebrows. But like my first school’s Golden Knights, your sports teams are an acquired taste, despite the comparative size of your student body. What is your mascot even, I’m drawing a blank, I want to say the Cougars? No, the Wildcats? Bobcats! Is that it? I genuinely can’t remember at this moment, and I’m pretty into sports, as it were.

I’m not trying to knock you, San Marcos, I’m trying to say that is the point, that while it would be pretty weird for a kid in Vancouver to become a huge Bobcats (?) fan, I wouldn’t like you as much if it wasn’t. I wouldn’t like you as much if everyone had heard of you. I wouldn’t like you if your star athletes that went on to fame and glory in the professional ranks were always also remembered for their time as an undergraduate, like Joe Montana, who had quite a pro career but a small part of his fanbase will always see him in his Notre Dame uniform first in their minds. Meanwhile I’m an avid baseball follower, I do the fantasy thing, I know a lot of players and their backgrounds and Paul Goldschmidt is one of the best baseball players out there and he WENT TO MY SCHOOL and I literally did not know this until this year, 2017, eight years after I first showed up there.

Something else I would like to point out to you, San Marcos, is you are more than just a school, more than just a river, too. You were a home. I chose to make you my home, I did that much, I went that far, but you allowed me to. I buried a little piece of myself within your borders, and it’s still there. The point is you weren’t Austin, and you weren’t San Antonio, but you weren’t just a highway between them, either. If you traveled in a more east-westerly track from the center of town, you’d pretty soon come to what could safely be identified as quintessential Texas, but you? You were only Texas-flavored. There was a scent of Texas on the breeze, but it did not dominate you. You had a bar that played live music every night for years, for years running, and it was not Texas music, it was only occasionally Texas-flavored. You had a Greek-themed restaurant/hookah bar that the better part of the student body couldn’t have cared less about, but the people that did care? Oh did they care. You didn’t have to be weird to feel special, like Austin, you weren’t constantly seeking your street cred as a real city like San Antonio, but you didn’t feel as arbitrary as New Braunfels, either, like some inevitable dwelling for folks who work in the city but don’t want to live there and they have to live somewhere, I guess. No, if you lived in San Marcos, it was because you wanted to live in San Marcos. I should know, I lived there. I was buying what you were selling.

Point is, San Marcos, please don’t forget to look in a mirror once in a while and see what good you’ve got. I know, I know, apartment complexes are great and all. Big shiny buildings are big and shiny, but you don’t need them. You don’t have to spend all that money right away. Maybe invest it, save it for a rainy day, I know you have those.

Okay. Good. Got an entry off my chest and into the world. Maybe next time… guns?

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