Yes, “thenadays” sounds a bit odd. It struck my eye among a list of words for “past” at thesaurus.com. I probably visit the thesaurus website as much as I do Chicos’, since I spend a lot of time writing, drafting legal briefs, playing at poetry, or jazzing up song lyrics when asked to tweak the work of my songwriter son. I love words and cobbling them together in a way that breathes life into a blank page. I respect words for the way they matter, for the life they have that none of us will ever enjoy …. although many of us will live on through our words. But words have dynamic lifetimes, expressing the experiences of people of different colors, religions, ethnic origins, and geographical locations. Not too long ago, the words of the English language were spoken in discrete parts of the world…..now they are used virtually everywhere. Many words live on and on, but others get dropped by the wayside, like natural selection. “Thenadays” appears to be one of those words slated for extinction, but nevertheless deserved a last hurrah. This is its hurrah.
So, if you aren’t turned off yet and continue to read my entries, I plan to muse about lost words and expressions, and words and expressions that should get lost. Unfortunately, there are probably equal numbers of both. I tend to rant about those I really hate, so don’t expect all fun and games.
But, this is not a niche blog on words and writing. I am also a frustrated historian, particularly Texas history. My love for Texas history (and many things Texan) dates back to when I began a part-time secretarial job at the State Capitol as a senior in high school. (I went to a new high school that hadn’t worked itself up to providing enough classes to provide a full schedule my last semester, although it hired a plethora of coaches and provided the guy’s gym with towel warmers.) As a 17-year-old, I still remember walking through the Capitol’s granite halls, among the columns, through the rotunda, up and down the mammoth staircases, with a sense of “deja vu,” as if ghosts of the past were whispering to me everywhere I turned. I liked to think that I had been there before – not just as a first grader on a field trip – but that I had been someone who had some kind of connection to the building in the long ago past. Maybe I kept the building clean, helped build it, or even passed laws. In retrospect, maybe it was a little crazy, since I generally don’t believe in reincarnation (although I’m open to consider it). Maybe I just had a particularly strong sense of the awe that monumental buildings tend to inspire in ordinary mortal beings. Or maybe it was just pride in being Texan that was spirited through me as I walked over the terrazzo floor with the marble chips spelling out the names of the twelve battles fought on Texas soil, including Alamo, Bexar, Goliad, San Jacinto, among others….or as I bid “good evening” to the life-sized marble statutes of Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin – both larger-than-life figures in Texas lore – in the foyer as I departed each day.
Maybe that’s also why I’ve worked for the State, in one capacity or another ever since then. I continued working at the Capitol for about 8 or 9 years during several interesting events in the state’s history (more to come in future entries) and then another 9 years working in the office of the Comptroller of Public Accounts, during the administration of the increasingly larger-than-life Bob Bullock. In the subsequent years, I’ve found myself lawyering in defense of Texas and her agencies, I’ve had the opportunity to research and learn bits and pieces about Texas history, its Constitution, and its lands that I think readers might find as interesting as I do. So, give me a chance – it’s possible that I’m much less boring than you might think on such topics.
Finally, I love travel. Show and tell about trips may come up in these pages. Most recently, I found a piece of my soul in the geysers of Yellowstone and the majesty of the Grand Tetons. These national treasures brought out the geologist, botanist, bird-watcher, spiritualist, wildlife conservationist, and nature lover in me. I’ve spent many hours contemplating the awe that the first occupants of this continent must have felt to behold a land that spewed and bubbled and am grateful for the opportunity to capture for my own mind a sense of that pre-historical, unscientific experience. I sincerely thank the individuals who had the foresight and perseverance to save these wilderness areas for us, our children, and our children’s children.
Nowadays, I find so much meaning and significance in thenadays. The reason could be as William Faulkner said: “The past is never dead. It’s not even passed.” As I get older, that becomes increasingly clear to me.