Texas vs. California

I am not the first person who has lived in both Texas and California and I’m certain I’m not the first person to want to compare the two. I am not unique. What makes me so special to want to write a comparison/contrast in two different places? However, I have an overwhelming compulsion to sit here and write about both. So there. If you don’t like it go some place else. It should be noted that I’m mostly comparing San Antonio/Austin, TX to San Fransisco/Bay Area, CA. I’m sure if I was living in LA or have lived in Dallas my experiences would be very different.

Before I go on I should admit that all this was mostly brought on because my boss at the documentary production company where I work told me that I approached filmmaking in a very “Austin[TX]-way”. Apparently in Texas, according to my boss, film people are very enthusiastic and hard-working, “all go, go, go, go!” and in the Bay Area film people are more relaxed and confident in their work, “we like to let the success come to us, we don’t need to get stressed about it”. I’m not sure what to make of these comments.

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Language
I find regional accents of the same language fascinating. I’ve been regretting that I didn’t take a linguistics class in college. The differences between California and Texas are subtle. I have heard the following words more in the last half year living in California than I’ve heard in my entire life: vibe, energy, trippy, groovy, dude, man and aura. It’s as if people talk in an airy way that makes them all appear high, something carried over from the 1960’s. I’m sure there are more language comparisons. In Texas it’s more common to hear Y’all and all words ending in -ing become in’ on top of a general slur and mumble or sounds and syllables, nuttin’ (nothing), dunno (don’t know), nu-uh (no). Being from central Texas I don’t have a strong Texan accent, though I can playfully turn it on as party trick based on my years of watching King of the Hill and having north Texas relatives with more of a country twang.

Weather & Geography
Both Texas and California and beautiful and have diverse landscapes. Neither is better or worse than the other. They are just different and should be embraced for their differences. I was shocked to realize that Texas actually has seasons, especially when compared to California. In Texas it doesn’t feel like that is the case but it’s true. It barely rains in the Bay Area (I’m not counting the fog-mist as rain). I haven’t heard thunder at all since living here and I love thunder. In San Francisco it is basically the same temperature all year long, roughly 60-70 degrees in the day time and 40-50 degrees at night. I’ve been missing the abrasive Texas summer that gives people no option but to spend as many hours as possible in a pool, river, spring, lake, gulf, etc. I just love water.

People
In all honesty I’m still feeling like the new kid in California. I don’t know a lot of people. Though I do feel like there is a big difference in the way strangers interact with each other. I went back to Texas recently and I was briefly shocked at how often strangers will just talk to me. It seems that I have partially abandoned my friendly roots and have reverted to avoiding eye-contact with strangers, which is the California way.

Conversation
It could be just the people I’m around but it seems like people in California boast about their personal triumphs in food, exercise, self-help, and general coolness while in Texas people seem to brag about their amazing new restaurant, music venue, band and/or movie (very similar to general coolness). Californians talk more about what they are while Texans seem to talk more about what they’ve done.

Filmmaking
Last year I got an amazing job working for an amazing documentary company here in the Bay Area. Over the past 7 months I have finally settled in at my job and am feeling pretty confident about the work I do and that we as a company are doing. However, there have been bumps along the road. One day I was sitting down with my boss, also the director of the documentary we were working on distribution for, and she began to tell me that I’m too “Austin” when it comes to filmmaking. I wasn’t sure if that was a compliment, insult or some sort of criticism so I inquired about the meaning of that. She said something along the lines that I worked too hard and that Texas filmmakers work hard to try and prove something to everyone, while California filmmakers work hard enough and don’t feel like they have anything to prove because they know they have what other people want. I’m not sure if this is true of all Texans and Californians in film but I thought I would include it.

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