As far as I know, Katniss was born right here in Austin. I didn’t know her for the first eight weeks of her life, however, so it is possible she was born somewhere else and used her tiny little puppy paw to hitchhike here. I wouldn’t put it past her.
As for me, I can’t decide whether I’m still an Ohioan or if I’m a Texan.
I am more proud than anyone I’ve ever met to be from Dayton, Ohio. I love the city’s connection to aviation: The Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur, the inventors of the airplane,º are from Dayton, and there’s a huge Air Force base¹ in the city, too, not to mention the amazing Air Force museum, which is my happy place. Everything, it seems, throughout the city is flight-related. For example, both my Dayton-area high school and college mascots were aviators/pilots of some sort—although a guy running around dressed as a circa-World War I flyer is about as intimidating as a warm glass of milk—and half the local streets and buildings seem to have the name “Wright” in them. Many astronauts² have come from Ohio, too. Lots of my friends are there, as are childhood memories so sweet you could put them on pancakes.
I don’t live there now, and I haven’t for almost a decade.
I live in Austin, one of the fastest-growing and most exciting cities in the U.S., and I love it here more than Katniss seems to love to whine—except for the heat. How hot is it, you ask?
• It’s so hot that no one is at the local swimming pool—the water evaporated, seeing as how Texas is about as toasty as the surface of the sun right now.
• It’s so hot that Katniss took lessons on how to speak like a person just to ask me to shave her coat so she could cool off.³
• It’s so hot that about 100 people per day are moving to Austin not because of the excellent economy, but because they hope to lose weight by simply sweating off the pounds.
Anyway, Texas is a place that people seem to love being from—much more so than Ohio, at least. Texas flags are EVERYWHERE. People have Texas-loving bumper stickers (I get a kick out of the ones that say “Secede” along with the Texas flag) and hang replica flags from Texas’ fight for independence that say “Come and Take It.” I dig how passionate Texans are about the state, and I think the fact that it was briefly its own nation has a lot to do with that.
I’ve never seen an Ohio pride bumper sticker, unless it has something to do with Ohio State.
Texas itself is obviously huge, and I once read it is something like the 15th largest economy in the world. It always seemed like a far-off, magical place to me as a kid, maybe because of the TV show “Dallas,” and it still seems magical—and ridiculously hot, lately—every day I wake up here. But am I a Texan? Let’s find out.
Why I could be a Texan
• I have a Texas driver’s license.
• I have lived here nearly 10 years.
• I married a Texan.
• Even though I grew up an hour from Columbus, I’d rather eat a buckeye than root for Ohio State. Hook ’em Horns!
• An ancestor of mine fought at the Alamo.ª
• I have cowboy boots.
• I’ve noticed I say “y’all” and “fixin’ to” (as in “I’m fixin’ to go eat some barbecue.”) more than any Ohioan ever has.
• Speaking of barbecue, I eat so much brisket (a Texas specialty) that I’m surprised I don’t have gout.
• Most importantly, I’ve never messed with Texas.
I think my Texan credentials are pretty impressive, but the fact that I wasn’t born here and I haven’t lived here longer than I lived in Ohio makes me think I’m not yet a Texan, just a carpetbagger yankee†. I’ll be 53 once I’ve lived here longer than I did in Ohio. Katniss will be 19 by then, and yes, dogs have lived that long. Hopefully by then she’ll at least have stopped whining so much.
And aren’t you glad your parents didn’t name you Wilbur or Orville?‡
º If any of you turkeys from North Carolina think your state is really “First in flight”—the Wrights successfully first flew their airplane there—go lick the business end of a 9-volt battery. The Wrights are from Dayton and designed their Wright Flyer there—NOT North Carolina. That’s like reading a book and then taking credit for writing it, too.
North Carolina and Ohio have a long-standing feud over which state is really “First in flight,” the slogan North Carolina has used on license plates and state quarters. The feud got nasty enough that a few years back, when the government was issuing those nifty state quarters, North Carolina had “First in flight” and a picture of the Wrights launching their aircraft embossed on their quarter. Since the quarters were being released in the order of when the states were founded—North Carolina became a state in 1789, and Ohio became a state in 1803—there was nothing Ohio could do about it, as North Carolina’s quarter was issued first. But I never get fired up about that. Not at all.
¹ Wright-Patterson Air Force base is one of the more significant USAF bases in the nation. When I was a kid, the Air Force was supposedly testing the stealth fighter there at night while young Andy slept—it flew right over my little then-blond head. A great deal of technology has been developed there, and it’s allegedly where the government once kept aliens and spacecraft it had captured. I think my dad told me once that if the Soviets were to nuke us—I’m showing my age here—Wright-Patt would be a prime target, and we’d all be vaporized. Fun!
² Twenty-five, according to NASA. Seven presidents were born in Ohio, too, in case you were wondering—and one even had a secret child. And six of our last seven presidents have been left-handed, though not from Ohio.
³ One would think that if Katniss could indeed speak words, she would talk to me instead of utilizing her incessant whining to make me guess what she wants. She usually wants attention, for the record.
ª My parents and I went to the Alamo about 15 years ago, and no one is allowed to take pictures once inside the structure. We wanted a picture of our ancestor’s name, which is inscribed on the memorial wall, but since we weren’t allowed to take a picture, the staff said they would do it for us (even though photography is banned?)—or maybe do a rubbing of the name, I can’t remember—and send us a copy if we made a donation to the Alamo. My mom, through whom I am related to this fallen fellow, gave the Alamo folks $5 and our address. We have yet to get our photo. Remember the Alamo! (Because it’ll forget you, apparently.)
†A friend once told me that a co-worker of his thinks anything north of Dallas equals yankee territory, which seems accurate. And yes, I have friends.
‡If your parents did indeed name you Wilbur or Orville, you’re probably a super-cool hipster living right here in Austin. There’s no way you’d be reading this blog entry, however, as blogs are so passe. That, and no one else reads this blog, either!