23 December 1995

Happy Holidays and End of Year Greetings!

A few years ago I started doing this “End of Year” letter thing because I procrastinated so long  that  Christmas cards weren’t appropriate. As I’ve pulled this one together, I realized that this is for me as much as you, because it serves to remind me of what I did do in the past year, what was important to me, and what I might want to build on (or in some cases, forget) next year. So thanks for letting me share my 1995 with me. And you, of course.

As parents are wont to do, I’ll start with Stacy, who’s now 12-and-a-half, 5’1”, in the 7th grade and, as they say, “developing”. Last winter she was named as an Outstanding Player in her youth basketball league. I got to bring her to work during “Take Our Daughters To Work” day, which was a lot more fun for me than her. (“Okay, what else do you do?” “That’s about it.” “Oh…how long do I have to stay?”) During the spring I volunteered to coach her softball team, along with her friend Katie’s dad. I have to assume the blame for the team’s name — the Hericanes — as well as a delayed  awakening to the fact that 11-12 yr old girls in 1995 are NOT the same as 11-12 yr old boys in 1965 in terms of skill, motivation, or seriousness of purpose. I don’t suppose there are too many more humbling experiences for a “coach” than being told by an 11-yr old girl who couldn’t hit the floor with a broom: “That’s not the way our coach told us last year.” Oh well, it provided the opportunity to preach one of my more meaningful axioms: the more you do what you’ve always done, the more you’ll get what you’ve always got.

Our highlight of the year was our first trip to Disney World in June with Stacy’s friend  Katie. After traveling to Orlando on business for six years, this was the first time I made it out to Disney World. We had a great, great time, and are ready to go back. During the summer and fall we got to see several wonderful musicals at Dallas’ Fair Park Music Hall, which included “Cinderella”, “Singin’ In The Rain” and  culminated with “Phantom Of The Opera”, which impressed even a 7th grader! A mildly memorable 4th of July resulted from an outdoor concert and fireworks event at which Stacy and her cousins Jessica and Britni decided to go “exploring” for about an hour during the “boring” concert by saxophonists Warren Hill and Tom Scott. Led by Stacy, whose attitude toward jazz is reflected in her comment/question, “Duhhh. How do they know what to name it if it doesn’t even have any words?”, the three girls viewed themselves as “exploring” while my sister Lizann, her husband Tom and I considered them as “getting lost.” A lesson in perspective, I suppose. Since she’s started Junior High, Stacy’s done great with B-team volleyball, A-team starting basketball, beginner band (clarinet — hey, I didn’t push her!) and her grades are actually better than last year. All that’s really impressive to me, since my recollections of Jr Hi begin and end with the immortal words of Marlon Brando as Col. Kurz in Apocalypse Now: “The horror…the horror..”

Moving quickly to work. Most of 1995 was spent more or less treading water while looking for a new job within Texas Instruments. My patience, more so than persistence, was rewarded in October when I was named to a new business creation team. Our charter is to look ahead 5-10 years and position our Defense Systems group in attractive business areas which we aren’t currently pursuing. None of us really knows what we’re doing yet, but I can sense that we’re in a transient state between the initial “mucking around” stage and the “hey, we better start showing some results!” period. The one drawback is that I relocated from Lewisville to Plano, which adds 20 driving miles.

My circle of friends and acquaintances expanded in 1995, though not with the rate of growth of 1994. (Actually, regarding some unnamed individuals, I’d just as soon as had a circle with a noose at one end, but those stories don’t belong here.)  My social orbit continues to rotate around Humperdink’s here in Las Colinas, where I keep meeting new friends, running into old ones, discussing the meaing(s) of life with the waitresses, and learning the latest music trends from Sean the D.J. (Again, several of these stories don’t belong here. Where do they belong, you ask? I’ll tell you as soon as my therapist tells me.)

Actually, I did have some highlights last year. I was quite fortunate to be asked to attend my first “black tie” affair last January, the Southwestern Ball which benefits neuroscience research at the UT-Southwestern Medical Center and the Kent Waldrep National Paralysis Foundation. That was cool (as befitted the penguin suits), and Natalie Cole provided great entertainment. I was at the Dallas Summer Musicals production of Tommy Tune’s “Stage Door Charley” in May when a severe storm hit and they had to stop the show before intermission. Fortunately, I had parked in the “right” lot because cars on the other side of the street were moved like bathtub toys by the flood waters. My good friends Jerry and Larraine Gerelick visited from Nashville after a year’s absence and we went to see Eric Clapton in concert. I believe it’s now somewhat socially acceptable to say, “Bitchin’!”. Equally entertaining were two concerts at Caravan of Dreams in Fort Worth featuring David Benoit and Warren Hill. And just last week, I was in the right place at the right time to latch on to a co-worker’s symphony tickets to go the world-class Morton H. Meyerson concert hall for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Chorus Christmas concert. (Right place, right time, but with the wrong person, which will become one of those things to forget looking ahead to next year…)

In more mundane matters, believe it or not I went to my first Dallas Cowboys football game this year — three of them, actually. Last Memorial Day I got so disgusted with my hair I pleaded with Toni, who’s cut my hair since 1982, to “do something”. She cut it off. I thought about getting my lawyer involved, but then, I figured with summer coming on, maybe it was just as well. I successfully boycotted the Texas Rangers and Major League Baseball all summer. I dressed up for Humperdink’s Halloween party. My costume was a Steve Erkle-inspired nerd, complete with my blue double-knit Air Force uniform pants which I last wore in 1982, the (sort of) light fuchsia-colored suit jacket with wide lapels I wore in high school, taped glasses, pocket protector, slide rule dangling from my belt, shirttail stuck in my fly, and a sign on my back which said, “KICK ME”. I walked in and the hostess said, “Hi, Steve, I thought you were going to come in costume.” Guess I need to go in for a more differentiating look next year. The night didn’t bottom out until my AFA buddy Mike McGinnis (who was NOT in attempted costume) and I performed a scorching karaoke rendition of  “Hang On Sloopy”. And, of course, I watched and taped the Beatles “Anthology”.

Throughout the year, I continued my reading, studying and writing about general semantics, the highlights of which included: my first published article in ETC: A Review of General Semantics; a paper I presented at a symposium at Ambassador University in April; attending the summer seminar-workshop at Hofstra University; and attending the 11th International Interdisciplinary Conference on General Semantics at Hofstra in November. I became more involved than I wanted in an Internet discussion on the topic. One of the great insights offered on that forum was posted by Bill Doherty from Massachusetts, who quoted Anais Nin: “We see the world as ‘we’ are, not as ‘it’ is; because it is the “I” behind the ‘eye’ that does the seeing.” Again, the perspective thing. From Stacy’s perspective, her 4th of July wandering was an exploration; from mine, it was, well, let’s just say I was stuck in a different perspective.

So, here’s wishing you appropriately variable perspectives in 1996. “May the maps you make reflect the sightings you take.”  More later …….

Steve