(Written Jan. 1-4, 2004)
Everyone else seems to be writing “2003 Recaps,” so I guess it’s my turn.
What events in 2003 had an effect on my life? Also, what did I, personally, accomplish in the year 2003 AD that will stand out for years to come? Those questions will hopefully be answered in the following graphs.
Because this is part of my journal, and not a news column, I’ll try to focus on how I’ve changed as a person due to these events, instead of just regurgitating a bunch of news.
INTERNATIONAL and NATIONAL EVENTS THAT AFFECTED ME:
SKY DISASTER: The Space Shuttle Columbia
Every person lives through world events that they will always remember, and talk about for the rest of their days. Those who were alive during World War II recall how “D-Day” affected them, while those who lived through the 1960s will never forget hearing of the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the 1969 Moon landing by United States astronauts.
I’m not that old, though. I am, however, part of the generation that remembers the Middle East hostage situation under the Jimmy Carter administration, the first flights of NASA’s space shuttles, the shooting of President Ronald Reagan, the fall of the Berlin Wall with the successive reuniting of two Germanys, and the collapse of the Soviet Union. We also, of course, remember the dreaded terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
In the same way, I’ll never forget Jan. 28, 1986, when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded over our skies. I was in eighth grade in Bulverde Middle School, in my Algebra class, when I heard the news. My brother Zane was two weeks old and my sister Heather turned 10 years old on that very day. It was shocking to all of us.
The loss of the Columbia wasn’t quite as shocking to me, but I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. I may not remember the exact date — it’s fuzzy right now, and it’s less than a year in the past [Feb. 1, 2003].
I was in the Seminole Police Department, as I am five mornings each week, gathering police reports for The Seminole Producer. D.J. Peton was on duty as the dispatcher, with the television playing in the background. As we talked, a news anchorperson broke into the show, saying that NASA controllers had lost contact with the Columbia as it descended through the atmosphere, heading toward a landing in Florida. As an amateur student of America’s space program, this didn’t phase me, because I’ve always known that there are points during reentry from orbit where radio contact is lost, due to excessive friction heat around the shuttle.
I joked to D.J. that it would be “screwed up” if we lost another space shuttle. He joked back. We talked of our memories of the Challenger disasters. Less than five minutes later, the news announcer solemnly announced that a bright explosion had been seen and heard over the skies of Texas, and that an amateur cameraman had recorded the event. Seconds later, D.J. and I were watching the streak of smoke on television.
At first, I was stunned, like I’d been in 1986, and in disbelief, but this time, I accepted it much more quickly. As an adult, I’m much more accustomed to horrible things happening, and as a developing reporter, I was becoming used to reporting on death and wanton destruction, but usually local. Thoughts began flitting through my head that we at The Producer ought to run at least a “bulletin” on the front page, announcing the explosion, just in case some county residents hadn’t heard of it.
But I knew we are a local-coverage newspaper, and only cover national or international events when they can be linked to our county as a “local” story.
As I walked back into The Producer offices, I hoped to be the one to break the news to Karen, Ryan and Donny, but they’d already been notified through phone calls. We all began talking about how to notify our local readers of the disaster, while keeping our focus on local events. Karen assigned me to the story, since I seemed the most attuned to it, the most knowledgeable, and have always had an interest in technology-type stories.
I searched on the internet, where news stories were being constantly updated, and soon ran across a story that pieces of the shuttle had fallen near Nacogdoches, Texas. That rung a bell with me. Someone that Karen knew lived there. I asked her about it, and she said it was Jeremy Fowler, a former Seminole resident, and former reporter for The Seminole Producer. However, she said that his cell phone had been stolen a week or two before, and she didn’t know if he’d gotten it back.
Right then, I showed my true reporter colors. I told her, “But the guy who stole it lives in the same town — maybe he saw the blast, or the pieces that fell.” I said it half-jokingly, but Karen smiled, recognizing how badly I wanted the story. She gave me the number, and I called, fortunately reaching Jeremy Fowler.
I got the story. Jeremy knew quite a bit, and had colorful expressions with which to describe what he knew. Not only were we one of the first papers in the state to have the story, but according to Dr. Terry Clark, my story had the LARGEST headline of ANY shuttle story in the state of Oklahoma.
So, the story affected me, personally, not just because of my love for space exploration and the sense of personal loss whenever there is a setback, but because I covered the story. Also, it actually served to harden my personal resolve to support space exploration. Just like when a football team is actually energized by a penalty or by an opponent’s score, so was I emboldened and more resolute that the answers to many of humanity’s questions lie with space exploration.
In other space news in 2003, the planet Mars was closer to Earth in August 2003 than at any time in the past 58,000 years. People around the world took advantage of clear skies to view the Red Planet that holds so much mystique for humans.
WAR IN IRAQ: A Long Time Coming
On March 19, 2003, I watched television along with the rest of the nation as President Bush announced that the deadline had passed for Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to allow weapons inspectors back into his country. After watching for a few minutes, I wrote the poem “Tonight,” expressing my feelings on that evening.
I mentioned “the beating that’s speeding in my heart,” and “yet, somehow, I’m excited / Pumping, thumping, bumping is my heart.” I also briefly questioned the morality of the attacks: “Who is wrong? Who is right? / And don’t give me your plagiarized speeches.” I recognized that history was being made before my eyes: “History has come out of hiding / As bombs provide the lighting / Tonight.”
Again, like on Sept. 11, 2001, I wondered if Seminole was safe. If a small group of well-funded terrorists could reach out and destroy the most visible skyscrapers in the United States, then surely a fully militarized nation like Iraq is capable of retaliating to the U.S.’s attack on their soil. But no attacks came, and Iraq quickly folded in the face of our “Shock and Awe Campaign.”
I felt vindicated, proud, and patriotic in those moments, and again several weeks later, when I saw the statue of Saddam Hussein fall in Baghdad. Even while democrats and liberals denounced our president for “war crimes” (Karen Anson, for one, said this), I hold strong. Critics say that Saddam Hussein has “never had anything to do with any attacks on America.” How is it even possible for them to say this? For decades, we’ve been deluged with news about Hussein’s exploits, and true Americans have been wondering all this time why our government hasn’t responded. Finally, we did, in March 2003, and I was proud for once, instead of fully cynical.
I realize that our forces haven’t found any “Weapons of Mass Destruction” and I know that Iraq hasn’t been tied to Sept. 11 events. Still, I believe that Hussein was responsible for so much of the terrorism over the last 20 years that the war was justified. Also, his violations of human rights against his own citizens should have been reason enough to depose him. Liberals are ALWAYS groaning about human rights violations; you’d think THEY would be the ones supporting this war!
It was also quite a thrill, on Dec. 14, 2003, to hear that Saddam had finally been captured.
Because of this, I believe that George Bush will win the next election. Hell, I might even vote for him this time.
SPORTS: San Antonio Spurs and OU Sooners Make Me Proud
As eloquent as I try to be, I still can’t explain my affinity for sports, and my “loyalty” to certain sports teams and ball clubs. All I can think of is that sports themselves define for me a kind of remembrance of when all humans lived by physical prowess — survival of the fittest.
Football, especially, is the essence of primal viciousness in the human creature, yet it’s somehow been combined with the most modern technology in plastics and electronics, as well as utilizing fully-plotted strategies and high-IQ think tanks.
All sports detail the development of the human race as a still-evolving species. Just look at photographs of basketball players from the 1930s — all of them about six feet tall, most of them white-skinned, and most of them Irish. Now, most of our players in the NBA (National Basketball Association) are dark-skinned, of African descent, and many of them are over seven feet tall. They are sleeker, smarter and tougher than ever before. They can jump higher, run faster and shoot baskets with higher percentages of success than ever before.
This year, when the San Antonio Spurs won the national championship, I was proud again, as if I’d done something to help them. Many writers have written of the phenomenon (mostly in human males) whereby sports fans believe they can affect the outcome of the contest. I’ll admit to feeling this way during a game. Though the games were thousands of miles away, I sat at my parents’ house, watching on television, and cheering along with my family, almost believing that the force of our support helped them along.
But I don’t only like the Spurs because we lived in (near) San Antonio for several years. To me, they embody the essence of sportsmanship and good-natured athletes. Unlike the players of the Los Angeles Lakers, the Spurs are never very flashy. They don’t make rap albums or cheesy movies. They don’t get involved in rape trials. For decades, the Spur players (with the temporary exception of Dennis Rodman) have just played hard, clean basketball.
Our favorite, David Robinson, finished his career with his second NBA championship this year. He’s always been a true gentleman, and has donated millions of dollars to help build educational centers for disadvantaged children. It’s nice to see the “good guys” finish first once in a while.
Later in the year — and still going, even as I write this — the Oklahoma University Sooners football squad has risen to great heights again. The OU Sooners swept through the regular season of NCAA football without a hitch, winning every game, and most of them easily. They even took out their in-state rivals, the OSU Cowboys, without getting any hair out of place. When they faced Kansas State University in the “Big 12″ Championship, we knew that if they won, it would be the best Sooner team of all time. We watched, stunned, as the Sooners fell easily to KSU. Somehow, the KSU team brought more heart to that game, and deposed the Sooners.
Still, OU is playing (today, Jan. 4, 2003) for a national championship, in the New Orleans Sugar Bowl. But that’s part of 2004, and, if they win, it’ll be in next year’s wrap-up.
But these sports successes somehow make me feel better as a person. And these young athletes (all of them younger than me) inspire even me to stay in shape, physically. Their dedication inspires me to keep working on things, even when I want to quit. Their resilience to injury and illness inspires me to be strong, even when facing the worst kinds of adversity.
LOCAL EVENTS THAT AFFECTED ME
ROCKY WARD: A ‘Good Ole Boy’ or Vicious Criminal?
This year, I learned that my government-bashing tendency might be justified, at least locally. Based on nothing but hearsay, a Seminole County man, Rocky Ward, was jailed and charged with first-degree murder of a Konawa Man. Ward has been in and out of prison and other troubles, as long as he’s lived here (his whole life).
In 1995, Kelly Seeberg was gunned down by a shotgun blast to the face outside his home. Rumors at the time pointed to Rocky Ward, since Seeberg had been dating Ward’s wife. Other than that possible cause for motive, nothing I’ve seen points to Rocky. Yet he’s been in the county jail since March, while his case marches toward trial.
The prosecutors, normally pretty respectable in my opinion, have come down hard and heavy on Ward and his family. For instance, I’ve been to dozens of preliminary hearings, status conferences and trials in Seminole County, and the only ones at which a metal detector has been set up are the Rocky Ward hearings.
The only known evidence in the case is a 12-inch piece of a shotgun barrel, allegedly recovered from a tree on Ward’s mother’s property. Several convicted felons have testified that Ward told them he’d kill Seeberg. That’s it. Seriously! In the 21st Century A.D., it’s apparently fully legal to hold a man in jail, without bond, for nearly a year, without any evidence pointing him to the crime.
And when I’ve pointed this out (pretty clearly) in my stories, the district attorneys have gotten pretty pissed. Fuck ‘em. It’s the job of the press to point out the failings of government. And our government was SUPPOSED to be set up where a man was innocent until PROVEN guilty, not “innocent until someone thinks he might be guilty,” which is the way it goes in Seminole County.
The trial is scheduled for early 2004, but I assume it’ll be postponed again. If the defense is successful in getting the trial moved out of Seminole County, Rocky will surely be declared not guilty, but it the trial stays here, he’ll go down for sure, whether or not anyone can prove he did it. Very sad.
Notice, I haven’t said whether I think he’s guilty. I just don’t know. All I know is I’ve been at every hearing, and NOTHING I’ve seen or heard has been enough to convince me that Ward is guilty. Of course, there’s been nothing presented to prove that he’s innocent, but our government was supposed be set up where the prosecution has the burden of proof.
TRAFFIC FATALITIES: Summer of Death
Out of all the stories I covered in 2003, the cumulative traffic fatality stories have been the most influential to my personal attitude.
It began early in the year, with a few deaths scattered among the early months of 2003. On of the most shocking wasn’t actually a “traffic” death, but it was reported by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol (OHP), so it was counted. A man was killed when he was run over by his own tractor and brush-hog machinery, and violently chopped to his death.
But these early deaths, as tragic as they were, were run-of-the-mill for our county, and they were spread over several months. Beginning in June, though, what I’ve called “The Summer of Death” began in earnest. Eleven traffic deaths plagued our county in as many weeks, and I covered most of them.
Each week, as I wrote about these deaths, one after the other, I began to feel strangely as if the proverbial Angel of Death was following me. I was already covering the story of the Rocky Ward murder trial, as well as two other murder cases from 2002 — the “Sherwood Forest Murder,” attributed to Wayne Coon; and the babysitter killing, charged to Christina Townsend. Add to that the weekly stories on highway fatalities.
I tried to believe that we just have bad drivers in our county, which is probably true. I tried to attribute the multiple deaths to bad highway conditions, to recklessness or to statistical aberration. Yet I still began to feel like I personally had something to do with it. I began to think of all the times I’ve cheated death in my life — falling into the fire at age 2 1/2, my alleged suicide attempt in 1998, the many times I’ve driven drunk, the time Mark Hurst and I slid the VW Beetle across icy lanes of oncoming traffic and others. Maybe the Angel of Death was aiming for me, and hitting these others.
Consciously, I know that this isn’t true, but it felt that way, nonetheless. People flipped trucks, hit 18-wheelers head on or from the side, got crushed by dump trucks, etc. It was horrible.
And even after the summer ended, the deaths continued, totaling 19 by year’s end, nearly five times the amount of traffic deaths in the previous year.
Maybe 2004 will be better — I hope so.
MURDER MOST FOUL: Life-ending Crimes Can Kill the Soul
Just as the number of traffic deaths was winding down, two murders in Wewoka occurred, completely unrelated to each other, but only 15 days apart and only one city block from each other.
An 89-year-old woman, Mary Gertrude Rippy, was strangled to death with a telephone cord in her home on Sept. 25. Her neighbor, Tommy Standerfer has been accused of this killing (he was also charged with murder in 1987, ending with a manslaughter conviction, for which he served 11 years in prison and got out a few years ago).
A 44-year-old man, Michael Lee Weger, was shot four times on Oct. 11 near a “drug house” after a life of crime and drug use. To date, no one has been arrested or charged for this crime, though rumors have said Police Chief Greg Brooks’ nephew was one of the shooters.
Covering both of these crimes, so close to each other, was difficult for me. I’ve had to talk to not only the police officers and prosecutors involved, but the families of the victims. I’ve had to read detailed and gruesome reports from the state Medical Examiner’s office regarding the autopsies.
BURN IT DOWN: Cumulative Structure Fires
Even in the midst of covering these several murder stories and multiple traffic deaths, at least three locals died this year in house fires. One was an 18-month-old boy, and his death was in the summer, right in the middle of all the traffic deaths. The other two were older, but still tragic.
Including these three fires, there were at least 28 structure fires in 2003 in Seminole County, higher than the usual number, and several of them have been called “suspicious” by investigators, but no arson arrests were made in 2003, nor has anyone been named or charged as a suspect. I was at many of these fires, taking pictures and asking questions.
Suffice it to say that coverage of these events merely added to the growing darkness in my soul this year.
THE WALTONS MOVE IN: Supercenter in Seminole
Finally, good news! Or is it? For many local consumers, the arrival of Seminole County’s very first Wal-Mart Supercenter was a godsend, the answer to prayers of people who want to do their Christmas shopping and grocery shopping in a single building at relatively low prices.
But for others, the news wasn’t so good. Historically, small town family-owned businesses are killed off quickly with the arrival of Wal-Mart stores, and Supercenters have the added affect of stealing business from local grocery stores, whether they’re part of national chains, local chains or are locally owned. Seminole has all three kinds, and all have been hit hard.
The Seminole Producer has also been affected, or will be, according to publisher Stu Phillips (my boss). Our paper is supported in large part by advertising sales, and at least one third of those sales are to local grocery stores. But Wal-Mart doesn’t advertise. Early on, Stu was adamant about giving Wal-Mart no coverage in our paper, because of the devastating effect that was expected. He said that for every local grocery store that shut down, we’d lose one employee.
The supercenter opened in late October, and so far, no other grocery stores have shut down, though it’s obvious that their normal levels of sales have decreased.
Personally, I’m split on the issue. As a consumer, I like Wal-Mart. It’s nice to be able to get everything I need in one location. But as a local resident, I think it’s sad that no one can compete with Wal-Mart. I believe in true capitalism, or “laissez-faire,” which means that the fittest businesses, the ones that compete the best, should be the ones that survive. Low prices, clean and safe shopping environment, knowledgeable, friendly and helpful sales staff and good selection of products are what Wal-Mart offers, and to a much greater degree than anyone else. But I can foresee that eventually no one will be left to offer anything else, and Wal-Mart will be the only company left.
As a resident of the city of Seminole, I realize that the city stands to gain finances in the way of increased sales tax, since the supercenter will undoubtedly draw from surrounding towns, but … Well, I’ll wait and see what happens. In the meantime, I’ll shop there for things I can’t get anywhere else, but I’ll buy my groceries at a grocery store, and get my oil changed at a mechanic’s shop.
WRANGLER MOVES OUT: Factory Hands Unemployed
The entire county was hit hard with the news that both Seminole Wrangler plants would shut down. For years, the plants have been the largest employer in our county, and the only place to work for many people. Also, the city of Seminole took in a lot of money since the laundry plant used tons of water weekly, and the city charges for water usage.
Now, though, where will the 600 people work? We’re already high on the unemployment list because the Seminole Nation Casinos shut down early in 2003, and then Wrangler shut down in November, only days before Thanksgiving.
Unless new industry comes in, and quick, this county could be devastated.
However, Seminole County has already survived the shut down of the oil industry and now we’re fighting the effects of the beef and cattle industry because U.S. beef is no longer being exported to other countries. These people here can survive quite a bit. I only hope they can survive this too.
CHIEFTAINS’ PLAYOFF TRIP: How a Good Season Can Be Disappointing
I’ve already written a little in my journal about how football is Seminole’s answer to the economic disasters and other problems. “If we can’t be good at anything else, we might as well be good at football,” seems to be the attitude. But this year, after three consecutive trips to the state championship, Seminole lost in the second round of the playoffs, as did Bowlegs and Wewoka. Seminole had a good season (not a great one), and the people should be satisfied with that.
But they’re not. After many years of VERY successful football, the sudden end of the season was heart-breaking for Seminole residents, especially those in school or those who have children in school.
It was disappointing to our family as well, since Zane was on the team, and starting to get more playing time, but suffered an injury late in the season. And, since he was a senior, it was his last chance to see playoff glory.
For the sake of sanity, I can only hope that other events in the near future will be more encouraging, thus burying this dark memory along with many others.
EVENTS IN MY LIFE THAT STAND OUT, FOR GOOD OR BAD
The year began with Mom, Dad and Zane living in their unfinished new house, which was encouraging, but promised months of hard work, in order to finish it. And work they did. They finished painting, putting down wood trim, installing sinks and toilets and bathtubs, laying hard wood on the stairwell, adding steps and rails to the front porch, and unpacking boxes. Just before Thanksgiving, we installed the kitchen cabinets and wood-burning stove, effectively finishing the house.
In January 2003, Heather, Jason, Joshua and Mark Beauford moved into my parents’ unoccupied trailer home, and they lived on the property throughout the year. It was the first time since 1995 that I lived in such close proximity to my sister Heather, and it was fairly enjoyable, especially the time I got to spend with her children. Joshua and Mark are fun, tough kids, and they seem to look up to me quite a bit. I hope that when they do move, it won’t be far.
Because of Zane’s coming football season, he and I began lifting weights early in 2003, and continued into the summer months. If more photographs had been taken, it would be obvious that he benefited more from this than did I, but that can be chalked up to his youth, and my smoking. Still, both of us grew in strength, size and confidence during that time. It was also a good time of camaraderie between us, a time that we’ll never forget.
Throughout 2003, I continued to work on my fictional stories in my free time, though my poetry-writing almost came to a halt. Graphs will show that throughout my adult life, the numbers of poems I write are almost directly proportional to the degree of instability of my employment and to the number of women in my life. In 2003, the number of women in my life was negligible, and my employment was extremely stable, for the first time in my life. 2003 was the VERY FIRST time in my life that I completed a SECOND consecutive calendar year of employment at the same job. At both Alberston’s and MegaMarket, I worked for a full calendar year: 1990 at Albertson’s, and 1997 at Mega. But now, I’m even more stable in employment than ever before. Add that to no relationship trouble, and I wrote almost no poems, except for a few brief occasions.
I began writing a few stories in 2003, perhaps most notably “Empty Planet” and “The Rights of Man.” I finished neither of them. However, I did finish the short satire “General Nutzack, etc.” (.pdf) and I began and finished the short-short “A Natural Extension of Today’s Economy (.pdf).” In addition, I furthered my work on “Mrs. Death” and “G.O.D” (or “God Was a Teenage Girl.”)
I’m refining my writing style, learning more about myself and the world around me, and it’s making me a better writer, though not a more disciplined one.
Another literary activity that required much of 2003 was the downloading of 1,000s of “ebooks” from the Internet. Many of them, I got from [website name removed], and added to my [name removed] sharing program. The books are fictional classics, obscure historical references, and major nonfiction works, all in the public domain. My purpose in this was to “share the gift of literacy” and to make more knowledge available to more people. It’s scary to me that so many young people don’t read, either because they don’t know how or because they can’t see a reason for it. But so many of them are on the Internet daily that perhaps they’ll see my vast collection of written knowledge, and actually read some of it. “Knowledge is power,” a wise man once said.
After my virus-scan program found an uncleanable virus on my home computer in January, I had to clean my entire hard drive, and buy new virus-scanning software. Almost everything important was backed up on compact discs, but I did lose a few things, like work photographs, emails, email addresses, etc.
Due to my increased Internet traffic in 2003 (especially after getting DSL high-speed Internet access in June), I was forced to upgrade my computer. Besides the higher speed DSL, for the internet, I added quite a bit of RAM, bringing my machine from 64 MB to 512 MB over the course of several months (ending in July). Because I saw that it would be difficult to replace my internal 28.6 GB hard drive, I added an 80 GB external drive for extra memory. Instead of replacing my internal CD-RW drive (which is very slow), I added an external CD-RW drive which can read and “burn” at speeds of up to 52x. For a minimal cost, I upgraded my speakers, so listening to music on my computer is much more enjoyable now. I also spent a lot of time this year burning my music CDs in to my computer, building a 2,000-song collection, all of which I can access with a few clicks of my mouse.
One highlight of March 2003 was that our newspaper was featured on a statewide television program on OETA (the local public broadcasting network). I was on TV for a few seconds.
Early in 2003, I decided to give up on playing guitar. This was partly due to my forcible prioritization. Since I only make so much money per month, I have to decide where it’s going. Some things get left out. I spent so much money this year on improving my computer, that my guitar had to be left out. I never paid to have my amplifier repaired, so that ended that dream. If I (in 2004) decide to fix it, it’ll be like starting over, since it’s been so long since I’ve played.
In the middle of the year, right after getting DSL Internet access, I built my own website, using software I found on my computer, and published quite a few poems online at willalfa.tripod.com [site no longer active]. There, hopefully, friends and family can read more about me. I also began publishing “columns” or “editorials” on the site, almost every week. Maybe no one will read most of them, but maybe someone will. At least it’s out there. I’ve done my part.
Later, I published my story “Robber Baron” online, for anyone to read.
In August, I got my first speeding ticket in four years (my last one was when I was driving a Pontiac Sunfire, with Mark & Kristi in it, and was going over 100 mph.) This one was in Cromwell, and I was actually going UNDER the speed limit. The court eventually realized this, and dismissed the ticket. But getting it really pissed me off, and served to reenforce my opinions that our national, state and local governments are too big, too impersonal, and too bureaucratic — even in a ghost town like Cromwell.
Two days after my birthday, on Sept. 22, 2003, my sister Shari had another child, her first son, Azariah Theodore Morrow. I may not be able to remember the birthdays of all my nephews and nieces, but this one should be easy. I’ve only gotten to see little ATM once.
In October, Zane and I drove to Arkansas, picked up Mark Hurst, and went to see a football game in Cabot, Ark. Zane and I had both hoped to talk to people we knew, but we didn’t. Still, it was an enjoyable trip.
In mid-summer, I had my first plane ride since 1995. I went up with area resident Doug Rundle as part of my research on a feature story. The plane was homebuilt, and the flight was fantastically enjoyable — it rekindled my love of flying, planes and all things mechanical. I almost decided to begin saving for a plane of my own, until I started looking up prices. In October, my cousin Larry Ray Turner flew into town with his friend Jeremiah, as part of their failed 48-state tour. That spawned another story in the Seminole Producer, and some more time spent in the company of planes and pilots.
In November, I bought a .22-caliber rifle from Perry’s Tri-City gun shop, after Wal-Mart failed to sell me one. I haven’t got to shoot it much, but I’m glad I got it — now I don’t have to spend scads of money every time I shoot a few tin cans.
Also in November, inspired by Kathi Shaw at work, I tried to quit smoking, but failed. Still, I had more success than my last attempt (two years ago), and it’s been more than 5 weeks since I’ve smoked inside my apartment or car. My clothes are smelling better, and my budget’s looking better than it has in a long time.
On Thanksgiving 2003, I spent more time with my Aunt Peggy and cousin Carly than I ever had before, when the three of us went to Garden Ridge in Oklahoma City to shop for Xmas presents.
Which brings me to Christmas. It’s the first year that I bought something for everyone, which made me feel pretty good.
Personally, it wasn’t a stand-out year like 1995 or 1998-1999, but it was enjoyable for the most part, being with family a lot, growing as a mature adult and learning more about journalism.