Saturday, April 28, 2012

NoVa: Love It or Hate It?

As a fifth-generation Californian, it took a good long while before I was willing to admit that I preferred living here to LA.  In fact, it took a solid 7 years before before the thought even crossed my mind (coincidentally, they say 7 years is the time it takes for all the cells in your body to be replaced).  That said, there are still some things I really, really hate about it.

Prompted by an article in Northern Virginia Magazine, 40 Reasons We Love NoVa, I decided to put together my own list of some pros and cons of living in northern Virginia.  There are others, and some may seem a bit contradictory, but here they are (below the fold):

Reasons to Hate NoVa
  • Traffic.  I came from LA, and the traffic here is far more infuriating.  People literally can’t get out of their driveways because of gridlock on surface streets.  It’s particularly infuriating because people don’t have the resolve to do something meaningful – like widening 66 inside the Beltway.  Absolutely insane.
  • Humidity.  Nothing like a beautiful sunny summer day that you can’t enjoy because going outside is like breathing through a Ziploc bag.
  • Redskins and Redskins fans.  Sorry, but the Redskins suck, and it’s only made worse by the Redskins fans who, until they are statistically eliminated from the playoffs,  claim every Monday, “We could go to the Super Bowl this year!”
  •  Water Everywhere, but Nary a Place to Swim.  Plenty of rivers and a huge bay, but not a decent beach for 4 hours.
  • Government Teat.  Yes, that’s what you get in a capital city.  It seems like just about everyone is on the government’s payroll in one way or the other.
  • Crappy Politicians at the Local Level.  Eugene Delgaudio is an embarrassment.  To be fair, I didn’t closely follow local government until I moved here and so it may be the same everywhere, probably is.  But I have to live with it now, and I notice it more - and I don’t like it one bit.
  • Pretentiousness.  For Pete’s sake, you live in suburban Virginia – it’s not Park Avenue.  Get over yourself (and get a tan while you’re at it).
  • Lack of Mountains and Decent Skiing.  Don’t you dare say the Blue Ridge are “mountains” to a kid who grew up in the Sierras.
  • Bugs.  They come with living in a swamp.  You can’t do anything in the summer without some being slathered in some serious DEET.

Reasons to Love NoVa
  • History.  For people who appreciate American history, northern Virginia is Nirvana.  The museums, the Capitol, the monuments are all amazing.  The majesty of driving into DC still gets me every time.  In that regard, it totally kicks ass on the West where the most notable landmark may be a Starbucks dating clear back to 1993.
  • Power.  Truly, DC is the most powerful city in the world.  If you stop and think about world history and our place in it, that’s pretty darn cool. Motorcades, while painful from a traffic standpoint, always draw attention like kids to a passing fire truck.  And it’s not uncommon to see major power players at a Baja Fresh or at your kid’s soccer game.
  • Nature.  You have all the amenities of a big city, but, particularly in Loudoun, you’re just a few minutes from some beautiful areas along the Potomac or into the Shenandoah Valley.  I particularly like the fact that it’s not a crime against humanity to cut down a tree because, guess what, we have plenty.
  • A Water Supply.  Again, we have plenty, which is why I can’t understand when we supposedly have a drought.  Try going 6 months without rain (like it had been in LA just before I left), then start calling it a drought.
  • Culture and Sports.  Yes, I hate the Redskins, but thankfully they play other teams that I do like. Plus, we have plenty of other pro and college teams to root for.  As for culture, there are all the shows and the Kennedy Center, Verizon and the theaters.  Heck, Van Halen was just here!  How can you beat that?
  • Sense of Community.  Unlike other large cities, there’s a more welcoming community here in Old Dominion, perhaps because so many of us are transplants.
  • Dems under Control.  Coming from California, and comparing us to DC and MD, I like the more conservative political climate (usually).
  • Good for Families.  The schools are great, and there’s plenty of stuff to do with the kids. For a big city, it’s still a relatively wholesome environment.  For this, I’m most thankful because it’s the reason I moved here in the first place.
There are a few other things, like pollution and crime, where I’m neutral.  Coming from LA, this is considerably better, but still far from good enough.

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