Transplant Profile: Southerner by choice, Katie Sciba talks sweet tea, Southern vocab and beating culture shock

Nothing makes the South shine like seeing it through the eyes of a Southerner-by-choice. While Transplant Profiles usually feature born-and-raised Southerners living outside the region, this week’s contributor is a Midwesterner who moved South six years ago. Funny thing about people from the Midwest – they’re hard to impress. If anyone rivals Southerners for having pride of place, it’s Midwesterners. “New” Southerner and author of The Catholic Wife blog, Katie Sciba, shares her experience in adopting “y’all” into her vocabulary as well as a few other worthwhile adaptations she’s made since putting down roots in Louisiana.
@TheCatholicWife and Southerner by choice, Katie Sciba talks sweet tea, Southern vocab and beating culture shock today on the blog! | StayingSouthern.net

(Photo credit: Chip Methvin)

Name: Katie Sciba

Born in: Newport News, VA but grown in Omaha, NE (military brat)

Occupation: Columnist and at-home mom

I currently live in: Shreveport, LA

I transplanted because: Visiting future in-laws with my husband Easter of 2008, he was introduced to the principal at the local Catholic high school. By the end of the conversation, he had a job offer. Two weeks after our wedding in June, we filled a Uhaul and drove down to start a brand new life.

Similarities I found between the South and other places I lived: I’ve described both Midwesterners and Southerners as the nicest people I’ve ever met. Both will bend over backwards to make sure you’re taken care of in times of need and the abundance of care and concern is humbling. It’s been a real blessing to have experienced in both places.

The most drastic difference between the South and other places: The PACE, good grief, the PACE!! In the Midwest, there’s not much time to chat in passing because the work ethic dictates that play comes later. Every man is on his mission and people go go go til quittin’ time. Down here, life is slower, which drove me bananas at first. I remember pushing a cart (what they’d call a buggy here) at Target, getting stuck behind a pair of sauntering Southern belles in a narrow aisle. Cruising at a pace slightly faster than a turtle, I couldn’t get over how much they weren’t in a rush. It wasn’t until I learned to slow down myself that the culture shock wore off.

A Southern habit or value I adopted: It’s almost embarrassing, but I say y’all now. My whole life I made fun of it, and now I’ve proudly added to my vernacular.  The Midwestern counterpart “you guys,” still slips in here and there, but “y’all” feels much more natural. I’m also a huge fan of Sweet Tea and so enchanted by the flavor of Southern life.

How living in the South has changed me: It’s expanded my horizons – I just tore apart and ate crawfish for the first time a couple weekends ago (after living here for nearly 6 years). It’s been fantastic experiencing things outside of what I knew during my upbringing. And I really have learned to slow down, generally speaking, to enjoy life instead of rushing through it like I did before.

Morsel of wisdom to other “new” Southerners: Give your A/C a tune up for the 6-month long summer. I’ll never forget how shockingly hot it was when we moved down here, and how long it lingered into what was “supposed” to be autumn. Other than that? Just dive in. It might not make sense at first, but every nuance of the South has some delightful reason behind it that’s worth savoring.

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Josh Abbott Band: Honest-to-goodness country on tour near you

Throughout history, many great things have come from Texas.

Tex-Mex. The Schlitterbahn. Whataburger. Chuck Norris.

And a recent addition to the list: the Josh Abbott Band.

You may remember these Texas boys from their 2011 release “Oh, Tonight” featuring Kacey Musgraves, but like so many quality artists, the really good songs fly under the radar. Exhibit A:


Hands down the best comparison drawn between a woman and anything, ever.

The Josh Abbott Band doesn’t rest on merely referencing Southern landmarks in their lyrics; they paint a much heartier picture. Listening to “Road Trippin” actually makes it feel 10 degrees warmer outside and gives me the urge to wear sunglasses regardless of what time of day it may be.

“I’ll Sing About Mine” offers a refreshing take on what much of mainstream country music has forgotten about – real life.

“When the radio’s on, I just don’t understand, because tractor’s ain’t sexy and working is hard for small town people like me.”


Good news for Southerners living off the beaten path – the band is making its rounds to Illinois, Colorado and Kansas this July.

Josh Abbott Band: Honest-to-goodness country on tour | StayingSouthern.net

(joshabbottband.com)

July 4: Willie’s 4th of July Picnic: Willie Nelson, Dierks Bentley, Ryan Bingham, and more TBA! Fort Worth, TX
July 12: Bub City BBQ Festival, Chicago, IL
July 17: Cavalcade Rodeo, Pawhuska, OK 
July 25: Grizzly Rose, Denver, CO
July 27: Dodge City Days, Dodge City, KS

Click here for more upcoming tour dates.

A little humor for your Friday

This is how I feel when I go back home to Louisiana and sit down to eat for the first time.

Movoto Article: 27 Things You Need To Know About Louisiana Before Moving There

Movoto Article: 27 Things You Need To Know About Louisiana Before Moving There | StayingSouthern.net

Movoto: #1. Louisiana’s National Monuments Are Hard To Pin Down (Image source: Flickr user The Sean and Lauren Spectacular)

Whether you’ve lived in Louisiana or you’ve always wondered what it would be like, there’s no doubt that the Sportsman’s Paradise is a place unlike any other.

A recent Movoto article details “27 Things You Need To Know About Louisiana Before You Move There” and it’s not all alligator hunting and Bourbon Street clichés either.

The article features a few lesser-known fun facts about state including #22, Louisiana’s current “beer-aissance” accelerated by seven craft breweries and it even mentions Louisiana’s growing affinity for the film industry.

Transplant Profile: Anthony Williams in Los Angeles

Transplant Profile: Anthony Williams in L.A. | StayingSouthern.netName: Anthony Williams

Born in: Tyler, Texas

Occupation: Writer, assistant, cashier, background extra, etc.

I currently live in: Los Angeles, California, in the Pico-Union neighborhood.

When I go back to the South, I always: Fail to do everything I want to do. But Taco Cabana is usually my first fast-food stop, whether I’ve driven back and see the first one in El Paso, or fly in and dive into some nachos right after leaving the airport.

Something I miss: I’ve been car-free for a year now, but more than sometimes missing having that kind of transportation, I just miss driving 100 miles or more randomly just to see family or friends. I miss high school football games with huge crowds and intense atmospheres. I miss taking my little cousins off to the city to visit a new mall or new burger joint.  I’ve got people spread all over Texas, and even dotted across the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, and those little road trips were often a good little escape that I appreciate so much more now.

Similarities I find between the South and Los Angeles: The Los Angeles Lakers are almost as revered, worshiped and talked about as the Dallas Cowboys. Almost.

Something I do to keep my Southern identity: I still say, “y’all,” and started saying, “Bless your heart,” here while (working) in retail – to keep my sanity. And, there’s numerous little things I only catch here and there that I do because I’m Southern or just because I grew up used to it – saving and reusing bacon grease, and cooking huge pots of food even if it’ll only be for myself. Weirdly enough, I say “ma’am” and “sir” more here than I did growing up.

Being Southern has helped me: Stand out. Even though I lean more towards being an introvert, I can be a little extra when meeting and hosting people. I help lead a Bible study group with another Southern guy from Georgia. When it’s at my house, I always end up cooking or offering something, despite protests that it’s unnecessary.

Morsel of wisdom to other transplant Southerners: I’m starting to write creatively, and something that hit me while learning the formulas for scripts (yep, there are formulas) was the quote, “It’s the same, but different.” That’s true in writing and in life, and whenever I’ve traveled to or lived somewhere new.

There are basic structure to cities, communities and routines everywhere. While it may be fun and easier to sit and figure out what’s your “new this” or “new that” (“Pasadena’s my new Fort Worth,” “Ralphs is just Kroger,” “the 405 is my new I-635”), it’s better to accept things for what they are so you can sincerely savor it all.

Oh, and whenever you go back home, relax. Thankfully, I have family that can remind me of that when I’m trying to run around to see everyone and do everything. But you should be able to just chill all day at an aunt’s house as if you’re eight years old again.

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SPOTTED: Familiar Springtime Faces… and side-dishes.

SPOTTED: Familiar Springtime Faces... and side-dishes. | StayingSouthern.net

Viola tricolor or Johnny Jump Up

There’s nothing like a relentless winter to make me leap for joy when I finally spot a couple of tiny, familiar springtime faces in the yard.

As pretty as the flowers are, Johnny Jump Ups make a tasty little treat, too. Members of the same perennial family such as sweet violets, violas and pansies are edible as well. The most common way to integrate the colorful blooms into a meal is as a garnish or in a salad. They also make delicious spreadsjellies and even vinegar. Sweet violets (Viola odorata) can be used in tea, syrup and cakes or even candied.  While the sweet violet flowers taste slightly perfumed, their leaves are tart.

 Johnny Jump Ups have even been known to treat epilepsy, asthma and eczema.

For best flavor, harvest newly bloomed flowers in the morning. This is when the oils are most concentrated and blooms look their best. The more you harvest, the more flowers will grow.

5 Easy Ways To Celebrate Easter

In my Southern family, Easter always comes with a big celebration. Relatives come to town, huge spreads of food are prepared and the Easter baskets are packed full of treats.

Now, living far away and having only a husband and a dog to celebrate with, the epic festivities seem like a lot of work for just a couple people to enjoy. It’s easy to get complacent about carrying on customs, but each year when I make the effort, I’m never disappointed. Although I may be a far-flung Southerner, I can always take traditions with me wherever I live to make it feel like home.

Here’s five easy ways to celebrate Easter that will have you feeling like you’re back home without a lot of fuss.

1. Dye Easter eggs. This easy activity will have you feeling like a kid again as soon as you try the old half-pink, half-blue dunking method. The eggs in this ancient activity are meant to symbolize new life, reminding Christians of Christ’s resurrection. Ukrainian customs hold great significance in each color of Easter eggs:Here’s five easy ways to celebrate Easter that will have you feeling like you’re back home without a lot of fuss.

White: purity and innocence
Yellow: wisdom, recognition, harvest and reward
Orange: strength, endurance and ambition
Red: happiness, hope or passion
Green: sign of spring, hope and innocence
Blue: good health
Purple: royal color, faith and trust
(Ukrainian Easter by Mary Ann Woloch Vaughn)

5 Easy Ways To Celebrate Easter

2. Eat. In my family, Easter Sunday Mass is always followed by a delectable lunch. Ham was on the menu when we were young, but as everyone got older and the family grew in members, fried chicken from the grocery deli took its place. Either entrée is enjoyable with sides of potato salad and ambrosia salad.

3. Stage an Easter egg hunt. Whether you have kids or you’re a kid at heart, hunting Easter eggs is a surefire way to add a little excitement to your Sunday. Fill plastic eggs with traditional candy, love notes, jokes, money or other fun trinkets to suit the hunters’ taste and bring smiles all around.

5 Easy Ways To Celebrate Easter

Photo: Maida Owens louisianafolklife.org

4. Knock Eggs. Whether you call it egg tapping, tucking, pocking or pâquing, this tradition is a competitive sport in Louisiana. My mother taught my brothers and me when we were young and the tournament-style competition has been an Easter ritual ever since. The rules vary by region, but my family’s are simple: knock the pointy ends of two hardboiled Easter eggs until one of them cracks. The unbroken egg goes on until the last intact egg is standing. Don’t be shy about getting into it. Since 1956, people in Marksville, La. gather in the courthouse square after Easter Sunday church services to compete. Some families even make brackets and keep score.

5 Easy Ways To Celebrate Easter5. Go to church. I’ve lived a lot of places, most of them hundreds or thousands of miles away from my tight-knit family. Going to church has always made me feel close to them no matter how far away I may be geographically. Raised Catholic, there is a comfort in knowing my family members are hearing the same scriptures and saying the same prayers as I am at Mass 2,100 miles away.

Transplant Profile: Stinson Carter in Los Angeles, California

Transplant Profile: Stinson Carter

Stinson’s novel, False River, is available on Amazon.


Name:
Stinson Carter

Born in: Shreveport, Louisiana

Occupation: Screenwriter, Journalist, and Novelist

I currently live in: Los Angeles, CA

When I go back, I always: Eat Southern Maid Donuts and a Herby-K shrimp buster. And I appreciate the time I get to spend with elderly family members. I listen to their stories like it’s the last time they’ll ever be told.

I miss: Family. And being in a place where I have a past. In Los Angeles I feel anonymous most of the time, but in Shreveport I feel like I’m part of a lineage, and there’s a deep comfort wrapped up in that.

Similarities I find between the South and where I live now: There is a kinship between ex-pat Southerners that I enjoy whenever I meet them in California. I’m working on a script with the producer of The Help right now, who is from Jackson, Mississippi. I think the fact that our hometowns are only a couple hundred miles apart definitely helped me get the job.

A Southern value I keep: I value knowing how to cook, and how to be a good host. A modest spread by Southern standards goes a long way in Southern California. Also, being accountable for what you say you’re going to do. In Hollywood you don’t make real plans. For example, you might say to a friend, “Let’s get lunch this week,” and they’ll say, “Yeah, that’d be great!” (Everything is great in Los Angeles.) But of course you don’t actually get lunch. What you’re really doing is just both agreeing that the idea of lunch sounds nice at that moment. There’s an old joke in Hollywood that goes like this:

“Did you hear that so-and-so died?”
“No!”
“Yep”
“That’s a shame. We’ve been meaning to get lunch.”

Being Southern has helped me: Keep a fundamental baseline for my values, and preserve my integrity in a city and within an industry that doesn’t exactly reward it.

Morsel of wisdom to other transplant Southerners: Don’t forget who you are. If you have a strong work ethic and treat people well, then you will make the kind of friends who will root for your success.

Transplant Profile: Stinson Carter in Los Angeles, CaliforniaRead Stinson Carter’s novel, False River, available for download on Amazon now.

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