Whether or not you are a religious practitioner whose faith requires you make certain sacrifices during this part of the church calendar, Lent is a good time in general to take stock of your life and maybe put aside a few nasty habits, at least for a few weeks. Think of it as like spring cleaning, a way to renew some of those New Year's resolutions you've probably already abandoned.
For Houstonians, there are plenty of things we could all be doing better, and maybe Lent can be a time to set aside our problems and bad habits. Sure, we'll likely go right back to them soon enough, but even a brief reminder might make us think twice the next time.
7. Choosing the same places to eat, drink and shop. Everybody loves a trendy spot until you show up for brunch and it's a 90-minute wait. I don't know about y'all, but I'm not ever waiting an hour for pancakes. Take this opportunity to explore, try new things. We Houstonians tend to be creatures of habit, but with the increase in population, particularly near town, spreading out -- which should be easy given the massive size of the city -- is a necessity.
6. Staying inside the Loop (or outside). And speaking of spreading out, how about making a journey outside the Loop, you pretentious hipster. Believe it or not, the universe doesn't cease to exist beyond 610. And I should say the same about you soccer moms and suburbanites. Downtown is not a rat-infested, crime-ridden hellhole you only visit during business hours. Everybody needs to embrace our bigness and take some road trips inside the city limits.
5. Ignoring the Rockets. Even in the offseason, the wall-to-wall coverage of the Texans is a constant din on sports radio. We love football here, and when and if the Astros actually right their ship, it is likely fans will climb back on that orange-colored bandwagon. But the best team in the city and the one most likely to win a title first is also the one that has the only pair of championships in Houston history. The Rockets are really good, and the screwy TV deal that kept them off the air the past two seasons is over. There's no more excuse for not watching this team, especially considering they have a legit contender for MVP.
4. Beef...on Fridays. Okay, stick with me for a couple of seconds here because I know that even suggesting this during Rodeo season is like slapping your girlfriend and kicking your dog right in front of you, but for Houston, this is about more than Fish Friday. We continue to remain one of the fattest cities in America. With March acting as the unofficial opening to beef-eating season (which lasts through next February), we will get more than our fair share of cow flesh this year. I'm not saying you shouldn't eat it at all. That's just crazy, man. This is Texas! But maybe take it easy on that brisket for a few Fridays anyway.
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3. Complaining about the weather. I'm sure this is not unique to Houston, but we seem to have raised it to a high art form. When it's cold, we can't wait for summer. When we reach July and are dying from heat exhaustion, we long for the breeze from a late October cool front. No matter what time of year, we can't stand the humidity. There's a chance it will be easy to follow this suggestion because spring is some of the most beautiful weather of the year here, but if you do feel like complaining when we get a weird cold front that makes you switch from flip-flops to actual shoes for one day, count your blessings. You could be shoveling snow.
2. Hating on Dallas. This is almost a pastime for Houston natives. We love to do it seemingly as much as we hate our sister city to the north. But let's try to put it aside at least for a few weeks. Not only is it boring, but we're better than that...and Dallas. Okay, that's the last one!
1. Driving. Maybe you can't give it up every day, but try this new thing called walking and see how it feels. Apparently, you just move your legs and travel from one spot to another and neither of those locations is a car. Weird, right? There's also cycling, which is like driving but you pedal? I know, it's strange, but it's supposedly good for you, cuts down on pollution and helps to curb traffic. Oh, and someone told me there are these buses and trains that you can ride in for like a small cost and they go all over the city. WTF? Or you could take a car with your co-workers every day in something called a "carpool." Listen, I don't really understand any of it, but Google it, see if it works for you and let me know.