Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Reason #1 I'm glad to be back in Jackson...

Chef's Salad at Basil's then running into friends at Sneaky Beans while walking back to the office


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Last Day in the Big D

Well, this is it. I'm surrounded by boxes. My desk is empty. Our year in Dallas is over. And, I think we did it right.

When Rachel and I moved here, we vowed to give the city a chance and to live here as if we were on a year-long vacation. At last count, we have visited somewhere between 60 and 70 restaurants or bars in the DFW area. That averages more than one a week. However, considering that we spent one week per month in Jackson and that we had favorites that we visit repeatedly, I'm really surprised I have any money left.

But, we didn't stop at restaurants. We saw plays/musicals/performances at every major (and a couple of minor) venues. We visited every building in the constantly expanding Arts Center. We went to the world-famous Texas State Fair. I could go on and on, but you get the picture. We have met many people from Dallas that haven't done half of the things we have. I find that extremely sad.

Unfortunately, I think that's a common thing. Let's call it "local apathy". To an extent, I may have been a victim of it before in Jackson. After a while, you get accustomed to going to certain places and say, "I'll try that new place another time." Two years later, the place is closed down because no one ever made it there. (i.e. The Auditorium in Fondren).

The moral of the story is not to get too comfortable where you live. Try new things on a regular basis. Don't be afraid to change plans. If something comes up, do it.

A city like Dallas can survive on low turnout. There's such a large audience here that even a poorly publicized event can draw at least a small crowd. Jackson doesn't have this luxury. We need to people to show up. We need people to take the initiative to find things to do and do them. Join email lists. Pick up a JFP weekly. To twist the words of JFK, "Ask not what your city can do for you. Ask what you can do for your city."

Fight local apathy. Be a citizen, not just a resident.

I'll be resuming my role as town crier and informant tomorrow. We have a lot of work to do!


Friday, June 25, 2010

Goodbye, Mr. Kitty

For people who never met Mr. Kitty, it can sometimes be a challenge to describe him. That's because he was no ordinary cat. His habits and routines had a way of seeming human at times.

He would visit the neighbors on a strict schedule. If he failed to show for a few days, my parents would get calls of concern. And, like the warden of the house, Mr. Kitty would meet visitors at the end of the sidewalk and escort them, with his signature bow-legged gait, to the door. Having been born wearing a permanent tuxedo (minus the tie, of course), he even dressed the part. Somewhere along the way, he learned to exchange high-fives for pats on the head...but only when he wanted them.

I was 14 years old when Mr. Kitty arrived at our house in the Delta. I'm 32 now, and it's hard for me to remember a time when he wasn't around.

We'll miss him a lot. Without him, who will let us know when the back porch furniture is out of place or if the patio needs to be hosed off? Who will allow the neighborhood kids to poke and pull at him without so much as a hiss or scratch? Who will greet us at the driveway when we come home?

We are lucky that Mr. Kitty spent his 18 years on Earth with us. I don't think there will ever be another one quite like him.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010


For a lot of people, this post is going to sound a bit melodramatic, but as I watched the pilot episode of LOST yesterday at lunch, it started to hit me why this show means so much to me, and how it has both led and followed me through the six most pivotal years of my life. As you may know, tonight marks the beginning of the final season.

In September 2004, I sat down alone, still married, in the living room of the house I owned and was soon to sell after the divorce. I sat down to watch a show about a group of strangers whose lives converged in a plane crash. The thing they didn't know is that every moment of their lives (every encounter, every decision) had led them to get on that plane. They were SUPPOSED to be there. By the end of the first few episodes, it was evident to us, the viewers, that the island was more than just an island.

Our lives are like those of the passengers of Flight 815. We all have our crashes and smoke monsters and whatever other unknown entities might plague us...good, bad, or indifferent. The point is that we are all lost in one way or another, and no one knows what will happen next. But, as a matter of fact we are not lost. In fact, we're on a very direct path to tomorrow. And, as fast as 108 minutes can count down to almost certain doom, we're able to push the button (4 8 15 16 23 42) and move on. Tomorrow becomes today. Today becomes yesterday. It almost always does.

I will be sad to see the show go. I'll miss the speculation and the analysis of every episode. I'm going to miss the characters with all of their faults. But, as with all good things, it must come to an end. With LOST, as in life, I have no idea what that end will be. It could be the same as the beginning, which in that metaphor, would probably be most appropriate.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Take What You Can Get

I love to cook. I love to eat. Both are best with fresh ingredients.

While the Dallas Farmer's Market and our neighborhood Newflower Market have great produce and a decent selection of herbs, nothing is better than clipping a few leaves from your own basil plant.

In September, it finally happened. The sun started to drop low enough to enter our wall of south-facing windows. I immediately rushed out to buy a pot, some soil, and a few plants.

I'm happy to report that almost a month later, with the exception of the chives that the cat took a liking to, all of the plants are thriving...basil, oregano, and thyme! We used all three last night on a yellow squash, onion, and garlic pizza.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

About two miles northeast of our apartment lies White Rock Lake, a small lake with roughly 10 miles of biking and walking trails and countless small parks. I discover the lake by accident a few weeks ago while lost on my bicycle. After finally making it home in 105 degree heat, I vowed to return.

This morning, I decided to start a new tradition here in Dallas...well, actually, I decided it yesterday, but it's hard to wake up at 5:30 on a Monday morning...especially when you've been sleeping late for six weeks. The tradition is an early morning bike ride around the lake. It took me about an hour and felt invigorating...a much better high than any form of caffeine can provide. I got home in plenty of time to "get ready for work".

On my ride, I learned several things:

1. To my knowledge, there is no single word for a bike ride. If I say I'm going for a run or a walk, anyone would know what I'm referring to, but if I say I'm going for a ride, I could mean any number of things. We desperately need to remedy this flaw in our language.

2. At 5:30 am in Dallas, it is DARK, and I mean midnight dark. In Jackson, at that time of the morning, there's at least a hint of the sun peaking over the horizon, but not here. It was all I could do to avoid runners while riding. Needless to say, I went out and bought some lights this afternoon.

3. There must be trillions of gnats around the lake. There are a few thousand less now than there were this morning (their corpses washed down my drain), but still, there will be plenty more for me tomorrow.

Hopefully, this is a routine I can stick with. It's hard to stick to anything that happens before 6 am, especially when you have someone lying next to you in bed who gets to sleep a few more hours. But, I really enjoy being one of the first people in the city awake. I love watching the sky change from black through several shades of purple and pink and finally to its rightful blue. I love hearing the animals change shifts as the night concedes to day. Most of all, I enjoy the sense of accomplishment I fell by having ridden 9 miles before most people have even slapped the snooze button.