25 Things I Like & Dislike About Living in Oklahoma

Some of you may not know that I’m a native Californian. I’ve spent most of my life there, although I’ve also lived in other places, including England and Colorado. I love California and I love Colorado, and I’ve had a difficult time the past 12 years deciding in which state I really wanted to plant my roots...

That dilemma was resolved for me when I met Nettl in 1999, who was working toward her masters degree at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. This is her home town and it was easier for me to move here than for her to transfer. At that time, her ex lived in OK and had her kids, and I wasn’t about to come between them and their mother. I’ve always had a little gypsy in me anyway, so I welcomed the opportunity to try new ground and meet new people.

At first I went through some major culture shock. Stillwater is a small city when school is in session and becomes a small town when summer hits. Most of the population clears out. I grew up in a small town so that was no big deal. I admit most of the problem was me and a certain prejudice I possessed about “Okies.” For a long time I was even ashamed of my zip code, I’m ashamed to say, but with the passage of four years I’ve come to really like living here. Now we’re getting a new house and I’m looking forward to raising our family here. Some time ago a friend kidded me about living in Oklahoma and I said, “Well, when you have the love of your life and are really happy, all that outside your window can be anywhere. It doesn’t really matter.”

I still feel that way.

I admit that sometimes I wish there was an ocean around, or some mountains—Oklahoma has no ‘Big Event’ like California or Colorado—but that passes quickly when I remember the crime, over-population and expense that go along with those locales.

Here is a list the 25 things I like and dislike about living here:

  • Red earth
  • Lush greenery
  • Redbud and pear trees that bloom in Spring
  • Friendliness of the people
  • Red brick Georgian and Tudor houses
  • Cardinals that wake me up in the morning
  • Ever-changing weather
  • Orange, pink, and blue sunsets
  • Harvest moon
  • Open fields that look like parkland
  • Arlo Guthrie (although he doesn't live here)
  • Wineries that are cropping up
  • Cost of living is really inexpensive
  • Red brick streets
  • Tulsa Opera
  • Tulsa
  • Architecture at OSU
  • Brown’s Bottle Shop
  • Native American culture
  • Reba McIntire
  • Garth Brooks
  • Last time a tornado hit Stillwater was in 1977, and did very little damage
  • Focus and dedication to the arts
  • Lack of pretension
  • Sitting on the front porch on summer evenings watching fireflies and feeling perfectly safe
  • Tornadoes
  • Born-Again arrogance and entitlement
  • 150 ft. crosses along the interstate
  • Road kill
  • Pick-up trucks with gun racks
  • Wind
  • Tornadoes
  • No mountains or an ocean on the western horizon
  • Toll booths
  • No Jack-in-the-Box drive-thrus
  • Mullets and white undershirts (called “wifebeaters” - Gack!)
  • Hobby Lobby is basically a church
  • Did I mention the tornadoes?
  • Walmart
  • The most economically depressed state in the country
  • Being called an “Okie” (where I’m from, that’s a put-down)
  • Xenophobia
  • People who’ve never been here think it’s a barren dust bowl of Springer trash
  • Can’t garden like I did in California, where everything blooms year-round
  • Really bad grammar
  • “Jesus died to save your sins” signs all over the place
  • 2 Classical radio stations, 3 Classic Rock stations, 5 Top 40 stations, 75 Country stations, and 50 Christian stations
  • 3.2 beer
  • Dry state blue laws
  • Rampant homophobia and ultra-conservatism