Six Months In: Tennessee Livin’

Happy New Year, Loyal Reader!  A new calendar year begins and I am excited to make 2015 a good year.  As it happens, I’m also coming up on six months as a Tennessee resident.  Where does the time go?!

I thought you’d appreciate an update about my life in the Volunteer State.  The last time I really wrote about Tennessee was four months ago; you can read that optimistic blog post here.

Because I’ve had several months to take in my surroundings, for this entry I’m going to comment in bullet form about some things I’ve noticed that are unique to the south or unique to the state of Tennessee in particular.  Several of these points are generalizations, and much of this is written with tongue firmly in cheek, so I hope I don’t offend.  🙂

Rural Morristown 1

Random Observations

  • One of the biggest stereotypes about the south seems to be true: people really do have junked cars parked in their yards, weed overgrowth slowly swallowing the cars whole.
  • In Tennessee, you can buy beer at grocery stores, but not wine or spirits.  Similarly, you can buy wine and spirits at liquor stores, but not beer.
  • I can’t speak for the rest of the state, but Eastern Tennessee is invaded by stink bugs during the warm weather months. These prehistoric-looking insects originated from China and were first spotted here in 2008.  They are harmless, but have a tough exterior and emit a noxious odor when squished.
  • Everyone drives a truck.  I have yet to see a hybrid car with my own eyes.
  • College football is the sport of choice down here.  Where I live it’s the UT Vols (University of Tennessee Volunteers), who draw three times as many supporters as their closest NFL equivalent, the Tennessee Titans.  Incidentally, the Vols beat the Iowa Hawkeyes in this afternoon’s awkwardly-named TaxSlayer Bowl.
  • “Southern hospitality” is a real thing. People are polite, they say “please” and “thank you,” and they hold doors open for women and the elderly.  Restaurant service is generally excellent.
  • People here are also reserved and private.  It’s been hard for me to make friends on more than a “g’morning, neighbor” basis.
  • Food is delicious, and is often fried in bacon grease. Barbecue chicken, Cajun catfish, and hush puppies are predictable staples…but so are BLTs, tacos, and Chinese food.
  • I have trouble buying jeans that are not baggy around the ankles, as most brands available here – even Levi’s, my preferred label – are “boot cut.”
  • Roughly half of the nightly news broadcast revolves around the weather.  In general, the south doesn’t get much snow, but the weather patterns are somewhat unpredictable.  And when it does snow, it’s usually just a dusting.  Still, schools close for days at a time, and people don’t so much drive as “go nuts.”
  • There seems to be a problem with sinkholes in the mid-South. There are two in my neighborhood.  Last February, a large sinkhole opened up beneath the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, KY.  Eight prized sports cars were “lost” in the occurrence.
  • Pets are given Southern-sounding names. Buford, Ellie May, Truck….it’s cute.
  • I moved here with a resume filled with jobs worked in big, liberal cities in two countries.  Somewhat to my surprise, this has impressed no one.  It seems I’m not just a Yankee but a damn Yankee.  Or maybe I’m losing my sex appeal? 😉

Have you spent any time in Tennessee?  What were your impressions?

Downtown Rogersville 3

Author: gringopotpourri

Gringo - aka Scott - was born outside of Chicago and has lived most of his life in or around big cities. He spent two years of his adult life in Mexico City (talk about big cities!) and fell in love with Mexican food, history, and women, all while weathering the culture shock. Life's journey has since brought him to rural Tennessee, perhaps the biggest culture shock of them all. Scott also enjoys movies, hiking, and travel in general.

8 thoughts on “Six Months In: Tennessee Livin’”

  1. “In Tennessee, you can buy beer at grocery stores, but not wine or spirits. Similarly, you can buy wine and spirits at liquor stores, but not beer.”

    Can you buy alcohol on Sunday?

  2. I have family in East Tennessee, and everything you’ve written brought back memories of visiting them. Lol, it’s certainly a unique place! I think it’s really beautiful, though.

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