Tuesday, September 29, 2009

What I shall miss, what I shall not

I am leaving Omaha tomorrow. I was planning on leaving it anyway but circumstances didn't quite allow me to leave in the way I had wished, but such is life, I suppose. Although I do plan to return in January at the latest or sooner if I can find a place with a room to rent that won't milk for more than maybe $300, it is a bittersweet farewell. I've been here for five years and I'm spending my last night in my apartment, much the same way I spent my first night--in a sleeping bag with hardly any of my possessions. I thought I would take these last few hours of my being here to reflect on what I will miss most about Nebraska and what I shall not miss. Let's start with the "not miss."

10) Drivers who cannot drive 45 mph on Cornhusker between Fort Crook and the Highway 75 interchange, especially in the passing lane! People, some of us have things to do and don't have the luxury of being lazy, bored or just sheer incompetent.

9) Drivers who do not know they have the right of way at a stop sign. This happened so much outside on the street out of my apartment complex. It was a two way stop with crossing traffic having not to. When it was clearly the driver opposite me to go, they would just sit there and motion for me to do so. It's not about being nice; it's about doing what the law requires.

8) Streets. Omaha is so ridiculously laid out. Streets end and begin with no discernible reason as to why. I thought I could take 60th street all the way to Dodge. Apparently not!

7) Nebraska wine. Yeah, right.

6) Two license plates. WHy isn't one on the back of your car sufficient? It is for most states!

5) Construction. Always construction on Highway 75. Never and in sight.

4) Anti-intellectualism. There is a fierce strain of anti-intellectualism in this part of the country, but I've never seen it so focussed other than here. Being smart and thinking is regarded as so east coast or the domain of the rich. I even had parents tell me, at parent-teacher conferences, that they couldn't understand why their son/daugther would ever take Latin because that was only for the rich kids.

3) The idea of fun always has to involve drinking. I don't think that this is necessarily a Nebraskan thing, but I've never encountered it more than here. Why, at any social event, especially when going out, does it always have to involve going to bars and drinking. Why?

2) Nebraska Football. If it were not for UNL and its football program this place would have nothing. I liken Nebraska to Hannibal, MO. The only thing that keeps Hannibal, MO alive is Mark Twain. That whole city is built upon the myth that he helped create. Nebraska is much the same. Everyone is into the Cornhuskers up here. It's been good to be up here when they've been in a down cycle so that they can see what it's like on the other side. Nebraska fans are obnoxious and their whole Saturday schedule revolves around that game.

1) Corn. I've seen enough to last me 10 lifetimes.

The things I will miss the most.

10) The trails. There are so many great trails around here where you can run, walk, bike, rollerblade or whatever. They extend for so many miles around the metro area along beautiful waterways and forests and even get into the city. I wish I could have spent more time on them.

9) Amarillo's BBQ. This is a Bellevue staple. This restaurant has awesome BBQ. I wonder when Guy Fieri will come to this place for his show on Food Network. It's a hole in the wall, very dark inside and the seats are not comfortable and the table is built for people whose height has to be 5'5" or smaller. But what great BBQ. I will never eat at famous dave's again.

8) The Holland and the Orpheum. What great places to see a concert or a show! The Holland is a modern building where the Omaha Symphony plays and let me tell you, the Omaha Symphony is one of the finest I have heard and the acoustics in the Holland are magnificent. My only complaint is that the conductor for the Omaha Symphony takes things way too fast. It is unfortunate that most Omahans and Nebraskans do not know what a great treasure they have in this symphony. I suppose that it goes with my complaint (see #4 above). And the Orpheum just has that classic appeal. The monstrous chandelier that hangs from the ceiling is breathtaking. My only complaint is that the seats were intended for people who were no taller than 5'8". I've seen several great shows there including "Spamalot" and "Mamma Mia" and the opera, "Aida."

7) The Old Market. THere are so many great restaurants and shops down there featuring every type of cuisine you can imagine. There's O! which is Asian Fusion, Ahmad's, a restaurant featuring Persian Cuisine, La Bouvette, a French restaurant and several others (I'm sick to death of the Upstream. Way too expensive and way over-hyped and way overcrowded). THere's also great stores. My favorite was a bookstore called the Antiquariam. I loved this place. I would get books in my field that were so old and so good for pennies of what they were worth. I found a lot of magnificent stuff there.

6) Speeding on I-80. Though I had little reason to drive past Lincoln, I always liked how you could really go fast on I-80, pushing even 90 mph legally.

5) My job. THough I parted from my job for reasons that were not ultimately pleasing, I did enjoy what I did. Teaching is both a blessing and a frustration at the same time. But for five years, I got to teach what I wanted and how I wanted. I don't know if I'll ever have that autonomy again. The pay was low and many of my students were corrupted because of # 4 from the previous list.

4) My students. I had so many great students and I'm pleased that I can still keep in touch with them. I always am beside myself with pride when I hear that they are succeeding and doing well. They will be missed.

3) Taxes are reasonable. The sales tax rate in Nebraska is 7%. Even in Columbia it was 7.335% Property taxes, though are a different story.

2) St. Mary Orthodox Church. This is where I was received into the Holy Orthodox Church on Pascha of 2006 after a spiritual journey that lasted many years. Since that time I became a very active member in the church and the people became my spiritual family. It will be very difficult to leave them.

1) My friends. I have been so fortunate to make and keep some great friends here, both from my job and from the church. When I first came here, I did everything I could to isolate myself simply because I just wanted to be left alone, do my job and do what I wanted. But the people at work wouldn't allow that to happen. So, thanks to people like Bogatz, Bossman, Campbell, Manchester, Shari, Tracy and Justin and a whole lot of others, I broke out of my shell and realized what treasures they are. They have helped me through thick and thin and I can only hope that I am 1/4 of importance to them as they are to me. I shall miss them most of all.

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