2008 Year-end Review

Email to Friends and Family (February 5, 2009)

Subject: Yes, I know the way to Santa Fe

Once again, my preceding year didn’t really end in conjunction with the calendar.

In this case, 2008 concluded, and my 2009 started, on Groundhog Day when I left Phoenix for Santa Fe. I’ll be here at least through May, and with any luck, longer.

How did I get here? (“I took I-25 up from Albuquerque” … [rim shot])
On the day after Thanksgiving my younger brother Freddy went to the emergency room with a repeat attack of pancreatitis, which he had been treated for a few months previously. He immediately developed complications and was moved to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Banner Gateway Medical Center in Gilbert, AZ, just east of Phoenix. I went out there to help out.

After three weeks of frustratingly little progress and enduring a breathing tube, a tracheostomy, failing kidneys, dialysis, pneumonia, high blood pressure, and almost perpetual sedation, he ‘woke up’ a few days before Christmas while our sister Lizann was there and I was back in Fort Worth. On December 29th he was moved to a longer-term specialty hospital for weaning him off the ventilator and beginning the long road to rehabilitation. From his first full day at the specialty hospital, he reached major milestones virtually every day until he was deemed “good to go home” on January 8th.

His recovery was remarkable. Consider this: we had a conference with the primary doctors and hospital staff on December 18th, at a very low point when he was not awake and I felt his condition had not appreciably changed. The primary care doctor adamantly stated that he was not in a life-threatening situation. He was still very sick but was positioned to recover. He said we should expect that he would be well enough to return home in 2 to 6 months.
Since I had to find a new place to live anyway, and he and is wife Kay could use some help until he was back to normal, I put my household goods into storage, packed my car, and drove to Phoenix anticipating I’d stay there until at least through March.

Instead, he was home three weeks from the day of the doctor conference, rather than their best case estimate of eight weeks. He began physical therapy and, despite a couple of scary but non-threatening trips to the ER, as January ended, it was clear to me that he was just about back to normal and it was probably time for me to move on.

After considering a variety of options, I decided for a variety of reasons that Santa Fe might be a good fit for me. I applied for a job at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, 35 miles northwest, and regardless of how that turns out, I hope this will constitute a sort of re-boot for me. Last fall I kept thinking I was ready to go someplace outside of the DFW area anyway. Yeah, it’s a big risk. But metaphorically, I look at it as though I was in a particular orbit. In order to change my orbit, I had to exert a lot of energy in the form of risk in order to try and find another body to orbit around. (Okay, read that however you want.)

I needed to find a fully furnished place for less than a six-month lease. Enter craigslist.com. Before I left Phoenix on Monday, I had found about a dozen possibilities to check on when I get here. I took the first one I looked at on Tuesday, and moved in yesterday. It’s a rather sweet 2-room suite that’s part of a 5-bedroom house on 1.5 acres on the outskirts of town … but just 10 minutes from The Plaza, which is the Santa Fe that everybody thinks of. All utilities are included, including DirecTV and WiFi. And some pretty nice views for a … can I say it? … former Texan.

In “Rent,” Collins and Angel sing wistfully about escaping their New York misery to “open up a restaurant in Santa Fe.” But then it’s the heart-broken Roger who hocks his guitar to buy a car and flees to Santa Fe to write his own song. He finds he can’t make music with a car, so he sells the car, buys a guitar, and ends up taking the bus back to New York.

So I’ve come to Santa Fe and I’ve found a place to rent. Fade out as the curtain falls on Act 1 …


Other 2008 Highlights

  • Other than teaching my one class in General Semantics (GS) at TCU, I didn’t have a job. I tried but failed to raise money to establish a full program in GS at TCU. I rented a house owned by the parents of Kristen, who worked for at the Institute.
  • Stacy found her dream job, teaching Computer Multimedia and Animation Technology (CMAT) at a suburban high school near Dallas.
  • I wrote four columns for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram as a Community Columnist again, as I did in 2005. I was particularly proud of some of the topics I addressed, including learning more than I cared to about Chesapeake Energy and their marketing/propaganda campaign in the DFW area. You can read the columns here.
  • I took the opportunity to watch a lot of educational documentaries and television shows, many of which I recorded and incorporated into my GS classes. Among the more meaningful: Discovery Channel’s “100 Greatest Discoveries”; “In the Shadow of the Moon”; NOVA “Science Now” series; Ken Burns’ “Jazz”; the Summer Olympics; and the U.S. Open. (Yes, I used clips from the Olympics and golf for class … legitimately.)

Videos (watch below)

  • Semester Review Spr 08: A summary of over 70 clips used on class throughout the spring 2008 semester. Taken as a whole, it’s not only entertaining, but it also provides a reasonable 30-minute overview of general semantics.
  • Fall 08 Review 1: Covers the first eight classes of the fall 2008 semester, accompanied by Tears for Fears “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” Some of the slides go by too fast to read, but remember … it was a review.
  • Fall 08 Review 2: Covers the second block of classes that dealt with language revision, accompanied by No Doubt’s “It’s My Life.”
  • Walking Wisdom #6: Just something I was inspired to do on a walk. Includes a bad word.
  • The Tyranny of Categories: Sometimes we put so much emphasis on mand-made, abstract “categories,” we forget what’s important about what is being categorized.
  • Word-Up Sarah: After viewing the 2008 vice presidential debate, I couldn’t help myself, aided by Cameo’s “Word Up.”