Houston, We Have a Problem

Dear Ms. Mix & Bitch,

Even though this is a complicated story, I’m going to keep this short. 

I grew up in a boring suburb just outside of Houston, and by the way, Houston doesn’t have a lot to offer either.  I couldn’t wait to get the hell out of there, and I did. I worked hard and was admitted to Yale University.  I absolutely love it, and have really come into my own.

Anyway, I’m about to go home for the holidays, and honestly,  I wish I was going anywhere else.  They’re basically good people, but I feel I’ve outgrown them. They’re into NASCAR and Toby Keith and voted for Bush twice.  That’s fine I guess, it’s just not me. It never was. 

How am I supposed to survive almost a month there? I have only a couple of friends I want to see (who also got out, and are going to Swathmore and Georgetown).  But that’s it.  Even though my family says they’re proud of me, they also constantly tease me, calling me “the girl in the ivory tower,” “too good for my britches,” etc. Sometimes it’s funny, sometimes there seems to be a nasty undertone to it.

I already tried to go home with some of my friends from college, but my mom threw a fit, and I gave in since they’re sacrificing so much to send me to Yale in the first place. So, how do I get through it?

Signed,  Ashley

Dear Ashley,

Ah…to be 18 again. I remember actually thinking when I was 18, “I know everything. Really, there’s nothing I don’t know.” 

By the time I got to 21, I realized I knew nothing. What’s my point? It’s this baby girl… it’s good to feel pride over your accomplishments. It’s crucial to the human spirit to grow and change and learn. All good stuff. And no one can take that away from you. But there’s more to the big picture than just you.

Most young people I know are also embarassed by their parents. But in short, they’re your family. Even with the cultural divide, they know you better than you think they do. And the nasty comments – while certainly uncool and unpleasant – are their way of dealing with the anxiety of losing you. They may be “simple” in your mind, but they’re not stupid. I am sure you are oozing disdain for everything they love, and they take that as a personal rejection.

Here’s an idea…when you go home this time, go out of your way to spend some time with them, doing some of the things they enjoy. If they start shooting off their mouths, tell them that while you may not like NASCAR, you love them and want to enjoy your time with them before heading back to school.  If they still keep going (because sarcasm is a hard habit to break for some), let them know it’s not so funny to you, and that you want to be accepted for who you are.

And remember this, Ash…if they didn’t believe in you, they wouldn’t be footing the bill for Yale (I’m involuntarily affixiating myself just thinking about it).  This is a very fixable situation, if you’re smart.  And hopefully you will learn that fostering relationships in your life is the true measure of a person’s worth and intelligence.

1. The Damnwells – Texas  
2. American Music Club – I Know That’s Not Really You  
3. Elliott Smith – Bottle Up And Explode!  
4. Laura Veirs – Where Gravity Is Dead  
5. Beck – Orphans  
6. Death Cab For Cutie – Your New Twin Sized Bed  
7. Damien Jurado – Go First  
8. idlewild – There’s Glory In Your Story  
9. Sly & The Family Stone – Family Affair  
10. Joshua Radin – You Got Growin’ Up To Do

2 responses to “Houston, We Have a Problem

  1. I’m from Houston, so I have to say that if Ashley thinks that this place is lame… she obviously doesn’t get out much. There is just too much to do in this town! There are all types ( with 4 million people, you are bound to find some cool people to hang out with here, if you try).

    That said, I am suprised by your answer Mixie. This is a very sweet mama response. I would mention to Ashley that if you need to escape your parents and feel like you have no peeps, there are plenty of places you can get away to chill. My favorite thing is to go to a bookstore and pick out a kick ass book and read by myself in the store, or at a coffee house.

    Sometimes I will go to bars/clubs and just people watch. There is more than enough stuff to do around here. Good luck baby girl 😉

  2. First, congratulations on attending Yale, without a doubt one of the finest educational institutions in the world. Your statement that “Houston doesn’t have alot to offer” is one of the most ignorant things I have ever heard. You do have to dig a little, but Houston has some real treasures.

    You could spend a month at the Menil Collection/Rothko Chapel/St. Thomas campus, and still not see everything there is to see. MFAH is nothing short of fantastic. There is a vibrant arts scene in the heights.

    Like smartypants overacheiving teenagers? Hang out in coffee shops in the village, where you’re bound to meet a bunch of Rice students.

    Want a little cultural diversity? Go to Hong Kong Mall on Westheimer, and hear nothing but Chinese spoken. There’s a very impressive Hindu temple on the west side of town, and a bona fide Shoalin monk teaches kung fu at a Buddist temple off I-45 south (open classes, go check it out).

    Long story short: the world is much bigger than New Haven, Conn. If your parents can afford to send you Yale, I doubt they’re a bunch of redneck, NASCAR-loving mouthbreathers. Cut them some slack, you’ll be glad you did.

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