Tennessee: An Alternate Reality

I knew Tennessee would be different from California, but only now am I beginning to think I am in an alternate reality.


When it comes to lifestyle, I love this place. Less than a mile from my house, there is a small parking lot with free access to the Harpeth River, so I could canoe or kayak or paddleboard my way around if I felt like it. The heart of the town is 3 miles away and it looks like a pleasant bike ride, especially when it gets blocked with traffic for its frequent festivals, weekly farmer’s market, and little shops. Live theatre and art films are more accessible to me than mainstream movies. In the last few days, I found a Whole Foods and a Sprouts, though Peter and I just drove half an hour to Nashville to get to the Trader Joe’s, which is next to a mall with a Nordstrom and a Macy’s.


Scout is still adjusting to school, and we’re seeing if it will work out. On one of her first days, she was amused another student gave her a beautifully drawn card which said “Welcome to PMS”. (The initials of her middle school.) It sounds like the curriculum is a year ahead of California’s, but I had thought Common Core put everyone on the same track. When I looked it up, I found out that Tennessee had been one of the states that embraced Common Core when it was rolled out, but broke away from it just last year, because they thought it wasn’t rigorous enough. In any case, today Scout is dissecting a flower and will be tested on knowing all its parts; her math work looks like she is doing vectors, though she calls them angles; and she is learning about Shinto and eastern Buddhism in her social studies class. The school has a generous recess period as well as a lunch break, and a flex period at the end of the day, which most students use as a study hall, but which can also be used for clubs. I just found out the school’s boy scout troop meets on campus during that period — what a change from California, where boy scouts are prohibited from schools!


She started school on Halloween, though the school had had its costume wearing day the Friday before. It was pretty bad having to find the bus stop and wait in the pitch dark until the bus arrived, and I couldn’t even see the two other students who arrived just as the bus did. Worse yet, that day Peter and I were slightly late getting home, so we were afraid she’d be sitting outside the house or by the koi pond. But she wasn’t there! It turns out, she’d almost gotten off at the wrong stop, and when she got to the correct stop, she walked in the wrong direction — because she’d gotten on the bus in the dark. To my surprise, the bus driver was worried about her too, and just as I was going back to call the bus dispatcher, the bus came back and the driver drove off to get Scout and bring her to the right place. Since then, she’s been dropping Scout off right in front of our house.


Halloween afternoon was a bit better. I took Scout to the Teen Halloween party at the library, where she won best costume wearing her Rainbow Dash outfit.


It was hard to move in, so she switched into Mabel Pines (Gravity Falls) using clothes we bought at a Hot Topic in Dallas. We didn’t get a lot of trick or treaters on Halloween, but when they came, they all came at once. Peter told me why this was. Since the houses here are so spread apart, many of the kids will go trick or treating with their friends in a newer subdivision, where it’s easier to get to more houses. But one of our neighbors came up with a way to keep our kids in our neighborhood: the Halloween party hay ride in the back of a truck. There were literally hay bales, with about 8 kids in the back of a truck that would through our area. Whenever they saw a promising house (which luckily for us, included our own), the truck stopped, the kids swarmed out, collected their loot, and ran back into the truck.


Scout was on foot, but she did well. One neighbor gave her an entire set of pencils, stickers and a paper chain garland. Back at school, she compared loot stories with other girls, and found out one had gotten a copy of the Bible for Halloween. Scout had been thinking of creating a set of signs to rate the Halloween loot, much like hobos used during the Great Depression. She’ll have to come up with a new one for the lady who hands out Bibles instead of candy.


We have to get Tennessee driver’s licenses, and I found out we will need to bring proof of US citizenship together with our California driver’s licenses, because unlike California, Tennessee does not issue driver’s licenses to illegal aliens. I also found out that the Tennessee equivalent of the DMV (they call it driver services) will also issue handgun permits.


The public schools and one private school are closed on election day — I’m not sure about the purpose of that, but it’s a day off, and by then, we should at least have some of our furniture back, including a new bunk bed for Scout.


1 Comment

  1. George Haberberger

    I enjoy reading you posts comparing Tennessee to California, but I am not really surprised that California seems to be coming up a bit short in these comparisons.

    cjb responds — Thanks, George. It has been very busy as we are checking out all Nashville has to offer. Hoping to get a new post up after the great eclipse.


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