Imperial Valley, Although You'll Always Have 115 Degree Weather And Be Uneventful, You're Still My Home For 15 Reasons

Imperial Valley, Although You'll Always Have 115 Degree Weather And Be Uneventful, You're Still My Home For 15 Reasons

Try finding quesadillas THIS GOOD anywhere else.


My hometown in the Imperial Valley has its perks, but both the 115-degree weather and unemployment rate is high enough to scare most people away. Nevertheless, I was born and raised here, so it will always be my home. Here are a few things I've missed while being away.

1. Juice Haus

No one makes acai bowls better than this place. Acai, berries, and granola have never tasted so good. It's true, absence makes the heart grow fonder.

2. Watching TV with my mom


At the end of the day, curling up in front of the TV with my mom is relaxing. We're currently watching "The Bachelorette" together. I think it's growing on her.

3. Uncrowded movie theaters


In Imperial, it's rare to watch a movie in a crowded theater. I love the fact that I can stretch out, laugh out loud, and enjoy my personal screening time.

4. Alexa


"Alexa, play songs by Bruno Mars." "Alexa, tell me a joke." "Alexa, play the song that says, 'I finally found something I'm good at.'" I missed this piece of technology more than one would ever guess. Washing the dishes goes by a lot faster with my dearest friend, Alexa.

5. El Zarape

This restaurant's handmade special quesadillas and quesadilla norteñas are unlike any Tex Mex food I've ever tasted. This little restaurant will always have a special place in my heart.

6. Getting a haircut from Jill


Although I haven't gone in just yet, there's nothing like getting a perfect trim and catching up with Jill. This is just one of the underrated perks of a small town such as Imperial. I've waited about six months for a haircut, because I simply trust no one else.

7. The slow-paced lifestyle


In Imperial, most people aren't rushing around to get to where they're going. When I'm driving around town, people will wave, share a smile, and take the time to appreciate the little things in life.

8. Pedicures with my mom and grandma


My cuticles were in the worst shape ever! It's a tradition for the three of us to go out and get our nails done together, and it's one of my favorite ways to kill two hours.

9. My church and youth group

I've missed seeing the familiar faces around my church and spending time with the first group of people that led me to Christ. Plus, going to church with my family is definitely something I've missed.

10. My car


I don't trust my brothers enough yet to take care of the Suburban I used to drive in high school. I've missed my car with its limited air conditioning and all.

11. Barbecuing and family time


The first weekend I returned home, my grandparents, aunt, and cousin came over to enjoy pool time and a barbecued dinner. These are some of the fondest memories I clung to in college, so it was fun to spend time as a family again.

12. “May I”


This is an intense, two hour minimum card game that my family and I play together. We all enjoy playing to see who has the best hand and who can "earthquake" before anyone else.

13. Free Wi-Fi at my house


Baylor's "AirBear" Wi-Fi was always spotty and would be a pain to connect to. Here at home, I don't have to worry about thousands of other students trying to connect to my Wi-Fi! I'm sure our Verizon bill will decrease this month.

14. Grocery store trips with my mom


As uneventful as it sounds, I've actually missed picking out groceries alongside my mom! I'd even argue that grapes and peaches taste better when you've picked them out with your mom.

15. My bed!


Nothing beats the feeling of sinking into my bed after a long and tiresome day. The pillow I use at home feels like I'm resting my head on a cloud of feathers. Plus, it's not lofted, so I don't have to climb up a ladder just to fall asleep.

Although I've missed being home and spending time with my family, I've certainly NOT missed chore lists, doing the entire family's laundry instead of just my own, and washing dishes for an army instead of just me.

I'm beginning to wonder if my vacation time was back in Texas, or if it's being here for the summer? ;)

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I Visited The "Shameless" Houses And Here's Why You Shouldn't

Glamorizing a less-than-ideal way to live.

After five hours of driving, hearing the GPS say "Turn right onto South Homan Avenue" was a blessing. My eyes peeled to the side of the road, viciously looking for what I have been driving so long for, when finally, I see it: the house from Shameless.

Shameless is a hit TV show produced by Showtime. It takes place in modern-day Southside, Chicago. The plot, while straying at times, largely revolves around the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. While a majority of the show is filmed offsite in a studio in Los Angeles, many outside scenes are filmed in Southside and the houses of the Gallagher's and side-characters are very much based on real houses.

We walked down the street, stopped in front of the two houses, took pictures and admired seeing the house in real life. It was a surreal experience and I felt out-of-place like I didn't belong there. As we prepared to leave (and see other spots from the show), a man came strolling down on his bicycle and asked how we were doing.

"Great! How are you?"

It fell silent as the man stopped in front of the Gallagher house, opened the gate, parked his bike and entered his home. We left a donation on his front porch, got back to the car and took off.

As we took the drive to downtown Chicago, something didn't sit right with me. While it was exciting to have this experience, I began to feel a sense of guilt or wrongdoing. After discussing it with my friends, I came to a sudden realization: No one should visit the "Gallagher" house.

The plot largely revolves the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. It represents what Southside is like for so many residents. While TV shows always dramatize reality, I realized coming to this house was an exploitation of their conditions. It's entertaining to see Frank's shenanigans on TV, the emotional roller coasters characters endure and the outlandish things they have to do to survive. I didn't come here to help better their conditions, immerse myself in what their reality is or even for the donation I left: I came here for my entertainment.

Southside, Chicago is notoriously dangerous. The thefts, murders and other crimes committed on the show are not a far-fetched fantasy for many of the residents, it's a brutal reality. It's a scary way to live. Besides the Milkovich home, all the houses typically seen by tourists are occupied by homeowners. It's not a corporation or a small museum -- it's their actual property. I don't know how many visitors these homes get per day, week, month or year. Still, these homeowners have to see frequent visitors at any hour of the day, interfering with their lives. In my view, coming to their homes and taking pictures of them is a silent way of glamorizing the cycle of poverty. It's a silent way of saying we find joy in their almost unlivable conditions.

The conceit of the show is not the issue. TV shows have a way of romanticizing very negative things all the time. The issue at hand is that several visitors are privileged enough to live in a higher quality of life.

I myself experienced the desire and excitement to see the houses. I came for the experience but left with a lesson. I understand that tourism will continue to the homes of these individuals and I am aware that my grievances may not be shared with everyone -- however, I think it's important to take a step back and think about if this were your life. Would you want hundreds, potentially thousands, of people coming to your house? Would you want people to find entertainment in your lifestyle, good and bad?

I understand the experience, excitement, and fun the trip can be. While I recommend skipping the houses altogether and just head downtown, it's most important to remember to be respectful to those very individuals whose lives have been affected so deeply by Shameless.

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As An Original Northeasterner, I Grew To Love The South And You Can, Too

Where the tea is sweet, and the accents are sweeter.


I'm not Southern-born. I'll come right out and say it. I was born in Connecticut and moved to Atlanta when I was 9 years old. I didn't know a single thing about the South, so I came without any expectations. When I got here, I remember that the very first thing I saw was a Waffle House. I thought it was so rare to see whatever a waffle house was but little did I know there was a WaHo (how southerners refer to Waffle House) every two miles down the street.

There is such a thing as "southern hospitality," and it's very pleasant for a newcomer to see. Southerners are raised with such a refreshing sense of politeness, and their accents are beautifully unique. It brings a smile to my face when I hear a southern accent because it's such a strong accent and one of my favorites. They answer your questions with "Yes, ma'am" or "No, ma'am" in the most respectful tone. I remember feeling so grown and empowered just because I got called ma'am. Southerners' vocabulary and phrases really have its ways of integrating into your own vernacular.

Before I came to Georgia, I never really said words like "Y'all" and "Fixin' to" but it's definitely in much of what I say now. I can tell when I go back up north to visit family that some of what I say may sound a little off because the dialect is very different. I find no shame in it, though, and neither should any southerner.

The weather in the South isn't so bad, in my opinion. Sure, there is very high humidity, but after living here for 10+ years, you learn how to deal with it. However, there's nothing like the summer thunderstorms. I love stormy, rainy weather and it rains quite often in the south, so when my birthday in July rolls around, I look forward to seeing that rain. It's the most peaceful weather to me and inspires me to write even more.

I could go on and on about the amazing fried foods here or the iconic yet insane Atlanta traffic, but those aren't what make me love the South. The people of the south are so different from up north but in the best ways. Everyone is so expressive and creative, as well as their own unique self. Southerners aren't the shaming kinds of people, but instead the kind who embrace who you are from the start. There's a fierce loyalty and a strong sense of appreciation that is just unmatched by any other place. No matter where I go, I always find comfort in knowing that I'll be coming back to this place I'm proud to call home.

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