January 2009


I woke up this morning like I did on Christmas morning when I was a child – early, excited, full of anticipation, yet having to wait for Mom and Dad to wake up to start ripping open the goodies under the tree.

Christmas morning came with a massive excitement hangover at about 11 AM, though, when all of the presents were open, torn wrapping paper filled the space around the tree, and reality set in.  The long 365-day wait for Christmas morning next year had just begun.

As I aged, Christmas became less and less important and the possibilities of New Year’s Eve and Day held more magic.  The idea that, as the calendar year flipped, we could each resolve to start over in some way – to change the way we have acted, or thought, or treated others, or treated ourselves.  As we know, most resolutions end up losing steam and falling by the wayside.  But the high is still there, the excitement and anticipation are still there, and the hangover takes much longer to realize.

This morning is not Christmas morning, or even New Year’s morning.  No, it’s Inauguration Day.  And it’s better than Christmas or New Years.  Today is my new New Year’s Eve 2009.  Midnight is 10 AM EST (8 AM MST), and the countdown has begun.  In place of drunken champagne toasts and Dick Clark New York countdowns, I and my loved one will be curled up on the couch, likely drinking herbal tea and eating Cheerios, watching the MSNBC feed of Barack Obama’s swearing in as the new President of the United States of America.  Ahhh.  Just writing that gives me butterflies.  Get the tissues ready.

I know so many people in this country are excited that we are electing the first African-American President, and so many people are filling Capitol Mall to watch history in the making.  I am also proud of that.  Moreover, though, I am excited that we have elected an intellectual and a visionary.  Someone that I actually trust will keep the promise to America that started over 200 years ago — that the leader of this country be a servant to the people.

Americans chose hope and optimism over fear and xenophobia.  We chose measured intelligence over folksy charm.  We chose to act and be treated like adults rather than petulant children who needed a temporary pacifier shoved in our mouths to shut us up.  We chose to choose over having the choice made for us.  Our collective consciousness has been awakened — maybe there is hope for us yet. . .

I wish, this new New Year’s Day, peace, happiness, patience, tolerance, and hope for you, your’s, and our global community.  For me, I feel one step closer to breathing more freely and sleeping more soundly for the next 4 years.

Ever since I left California, I’ve been trying to figure out how to move back.  But over the course of the last 10 years, the state I love has endured some hard times.  With the astronomical growth in the cost of living, industry moving out of the state to places that are more hospitable to business (and the desert Southwest being a great recipient of that movement), high taxes, high energy costs, high crime rates, and high commute times, there are many reasons why it is foolish to move back.

When you are homesick, though, none of that stuff matters.  I miss the land, the rolling green hills that turn gold in early summer, the Live Oak and Eucalyptus trees, the rows of freshly growing produce and orchards that go on for miles.  I miss the water – the sounds and smell of the ocean, the rivers and streams that run through nearly every town, the morning and afternoon fog that envelops you like a cozy blanket, the rain that lasts for 3 days at a time and leaves everything fresh and clean when it moves out.  And I miss the way that I could take a weekend trip, never leave the state, and go to a completely different place than where I came from.  Sun/Snow, ocean/mountains, desert/forest, liberal/conservative, planned and manufactured/free spirited and natural.  Something for everyone.  Everything to keep your mind stimulated.  Everything for me.

In many ways, with its monotonous colors, monotonous landscape, monotonous weather, monotonous thought, I feel like New Mexico has made me lazy – zapped me of all of my creative energy and motivation to achieve that which is important to me.  Many people find inspiration and “enchantment” in the high desert landscape of Santa Fe.  I find the opposite – a Dead Zone.  Everything is the same, top to bottom, left to right, up and down.  48 shades of brown, incessant sun shining through 19 degree days, nothing to take your mind off of the bleakness of the place.  Boring.  Conformist.  Draining.

So on this very cold, very sunny, very oppressive Southwestern day, I eat grapefruit and oranges picked fresh from my mother’s Arizona trees and I dream of the day that I move back home.