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Sunday, November 2, 2014

What's it all about?

In short, this blog is about my hometown, Lubbock, Texas. I intend to discuss the histoy, geography, climate, politics, art and popular culture of Lubbock and the surrounding area. I also will blog about the feelings and impressions, good and bad, that surround my most recent return to a city that I can't seem to seem to tear myself away from.

Downtown Lubbock, from the city's Wikipedia page

My adult life has seen a series of departures from and returns to Lubbock. With each time that I have moved away, I have been increasingly certain that I was leaving for the last time. Each time that I have returned, it has been with mixed feelings. To be sure, there are things that I dislike about Lubbock: The sparse, flat geography, the dry, windy, often dusty climate, the conservative politics and religious fundamentalism. But if I search hard enough, there are things that I like and even admire about this place. There is beauty in the austerity of the landscape, if you are willing to look for it in the wide open spaces and vast skies. Although the political conservatism of the city, and the state of Texas, often rubs me the wrong way, I nevertheless find a friendliness in the people here that is refreshing. And although Lubbock has a reputation as a boring city with little to offer in the way of entertainment, there are cultural and artistic opportunities that belie that reputation.

A Brief Background Sketch

My family moved to Lubbock in 1972 when I was eight years old, when my mother took a faculty position at Texas Tech University. I grew up in a middle-class neighborhood, enjoyed what I would consider a fairly normal childhood, until I left for college in San Antonio at the age of 18.

Clapp Park, where I spent much of my childhood

After graduating from Trinity University in 1986, I returned to Lubbock, where I spent the next five years working in a sandwich shop while I earned my Master's Degree in anthropology from Texas Tech. Then I left Lubbock, for the second time, to earn my PhD at the University of Georgia. After three years in Athens, GA, I spent one year in a temporary teaching job at Radford University in Virginia. Then, in 1995, I once again returned to Lubbock, where I spent the next two years living with my mother, working on my dissertation and looking for an academic position.

During those two years, my life took a dramatic turn. During that period in the mid-1990s, when the internet was just beginning to take its place as a part of American life, I met online, and fell in love with, Karen. In 1997 I moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, and we married in October of that year. Soon after, I adopted Karen's son Kaleb, who was five years old when we married. I took a job with GE Capital, where I worked for the next twelve years.

Another major milestone in my family's life took place in 2010, when I was laid off from my job at GE. As a major banking center, Charlotte, NC was not a good place to be unemployed during the Great Recession. At this time, my mother was preparing to move to a retirement community and offered to let us live in her house--the same house that I had grown up in, She hoped to avoid the hassle of trying to sell the house, and, as she pointed out, Lubbock offered a stronger economy and a much lower unemployment rate than Charlotte. After a year and a half of searching for a new job, and facing the expiration of my unemployment benefits, we made the difficult decision to accept her offer and to move to Lubbock.

A winter day on our front patio
Being back in Lubbock with my family, living in my childhood home, has produced mixed feelings. I have a job working for a nonprofit company that provides services for the hard of hearing, and while this job is more enjoyable and rewarding than what I was doing in North Carolina, I make only slightly more than half what I earned before. My wife and son, who had both spent their entire lives living in eastern coast states, have obviously had to make adjustments to their new home.

I will discuss at greater length in this blog the specifics of what I like and dislike about my hometown, and how growing up in Lubbock has made me who I am, for better or worse.

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