Open Letter to the People of New York

Dear People of New York,

Do you feel like you are unable to pursue your dreams? Do you feel oppressed by your regulatory environment? Do you feel like your liberties have been stolen? Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott seems to think so. So much so that he invested funds from his growing war chest in a campaign to recruit you to our great state of Texas. To be a bit more specific, Abbott seeks to bring freedom-loving New Yorkers, which in his mind, equates to the gun-toting among you.

A series of online ads began appearing on news sites in New York City and Albany immediately following the passage of far-reaching gun-control legislation by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

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Signed one month after that earth-shattering day in Newtown, CT, New York now has some of the toughest gun laws in the U.S. In the ads, Abbott cites strong job growth and lack of state income tax as reasons to “Get on down to Texas, y’all.” It’s true that over the past few years Texas has seen a huge influx of people from high-tax states, including large numbers from New York. Mostly high-income earners seeking to stretch those nice salaries with our lower taxes and lower cost of living. It makes perfect sense, really. We love it when newly arrived New Yorkers think our houses are cheap. “What’s that? You said you would like to pay cash?”

Then there is the gun-toting part. Abbott’s headline, “Keep your gun, come to Texas,” is paired with an image of Texas colored completely orange with the line reading, “Each orange dot represents a Texas gun owner.”

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A mildly creative way of implying that you won’t be singled out here, because we are all packing heat. He further suggests that your liberty has been stolen along with your gun and makes the case that you can use your new surplus of cash to buy more ammo. I am certainly no expert on the New York state of mind, but I suspect you have a more balanced definition of liberty and much different plans for your money.

Which leads me to my next question. Are you as insulted by Abbott’s simplistic view of your values as I am embarrassed of his characterization of Texas and Texans?

I am Texan, born and bred. Along with the good things like chicken-fried anything and best damn quality of people you’ll ever meet, I have done my best to accept the less savory things that come along with this label. Such as, but not limited to, truck nuts, quarterly secession threats, insular thinking, a pretense that being gay is a choice and the relentless attempt to regulate a woman’s womanly parts by imbecilic, bible-beating politicians. Oh and a rampant, dick-swinging gun culture. Last I checked, we weren’t living on the frontier and I don’t care anything about dreams of an armed insurrection against a mythical and oppressive federal government.

Along with strong job growth and low cost of living are a few less favorable facts of which I should make you aware. Like that 1 in 4 people in Texas are uninsured; the public school system is abhorrent; and the state has one of the nation’s lowest per capita spending in mental health. Texas can sometimes be like a whole other country – a third world one with more money than good sense. Which takes me back to Abbott.

You and I both know that he is poking fun with this campaign. If it isn’t immediately obvious, he ran these ads in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal in New York City and Albany rather than rural areas like Allegany, where his message might be taken seriously. The whole thing was simply a demonstration of Texas-style bravado in an arrogant attempt to gain Abbott a seat at the national political dinner table.

Like when he appeared on Lou Dobbs on January 15, “it is tongue in cheek, but there is a deeper message here,” he said. “Texas really does stand as the last bastion of ultimate freedom in this country. Over the last decade, more than 4 million people moved to this state, and one reason is freedom and one reason is economic opportunity.” He then went on to echo a sentiment I have heard too much of recently, “why can some have armed guards, but not regular people.” And by “some” I can only assume he means “those elitists” who seek to do something over nothing. It takes me miles beyond embarrassment when an elected official from my state chooses to deliver paid-for and politically motivated sarcasm to an audience only a short drive away from a place where twenty tiny graves are still fresh.

Know that we don’t all fit the image that Abbott puts forth and regret that his mildly witty, yet tone-deaf campaign makes us out to be gun-crazed fanatics. And some of us actually embrace what it is to be Texan, but have higher aspirations for this place we call home. Clearly Abbott has aspirations of his own, like perhaps a gubernatorial run in 2014. You can’t always see it, but things are changing down here. Maybe it has to do with the millions of people from elsewhere with their different ideas that are moving here day after day along with the growing cultural diversity of our communities. As the tide shifts, I believe these forces will bring about a broader, more balanced definition of liberty among my fellow statesmen. Voices like Abbott’s will inevitably be drowned out by reason and I hold out hope that his recent tongue-in-cheek exhibition will become his stark reality.


Amber, a Middle-Class White Girl from Texas

I held this letter for weeks, unsure of whether to publish it here or not. Then, I heard that the freshman Senator Ted Cruz (R) from Texas wished to bring a gun to the Senate floor today (for demonstrative purposes), but was unable to do so because assault weapons are banned in the District of Colombia. Upon hearing this, I dug the letter out again. These people may represent me, but they don’t represent my views or my vision for Texas or this country. If I want change, I need to speak up. Starting now.


I am {not} a runner

I have this dream where I am running on a beach. Damp sand kicking up on my heels, I glide along the misty coastline with the sun rising to my right and frothy sea lapping to my left. My taut muscles flex with every stride like a majestic mare. The skin on my shoulders glistens slightly from small beads of sweat. The air is cool. Each breath is controlled and steady and produces a small cloud in front of my mouth, serving as symbol that I am living my life at full throttle. I run…and run…and run. Not a jog, a full run.

Do you like to run? I do not. Not inside, outside, uphill or downhill. I do not like to run.

I know people who run. As a matter of fact, I know lots of people who run a lot – 5k, 10k, half-marathon, marathon. Even a few Ironmen, those who run after tons of other crazy shit. It seems like there are more people now who run more than ever before. These are the “running people.” They all just run, run, run. They run when it’s hot. They run when it’s not. They run in the sun, snow and rain. Many run for fitness, others run simply because they can.

Sometimes I envision myself as Forest Gump. Not the shrimp fisherman, but the running Forest. I think to myself, “so I just started running.” Then come images of all the majestic things I see when I am running out in the world – across the Painted Desert, along the lakes of Minnesota, through the streets of New York City. In this vision, I can real-ly run. Once I finish running and have seen all that I want to see, I just stop. I turnaround to the group of people that I have inspired to run alongside me on this magnificent journey. They wait with bated breath for me to speak and I say with muffled voice, “I’m tired. I’m going home now.” And that would be it, my running days would be over.

Those “running people” say once you pass the first few miles, it gets easier. They claim there is a point at which running becomes pleasant, even addictive. I think they are lying to me. I have done one official “run” in my life – 12 miles with a lot of obstacles thrown in for giggles. It was a team event so you can ask my teammates about my stellar performance. Then there was a 1-mile fun run. You read that right, one mile. Yes, I walked some of the way. I ran cross country in junior high, but didn’t everyone? I have no idea what that was about. Hated every minute of it.

The marathon is a symbol to me. A great goal, but something I have convinced myself I will never accomplish. That it is not in my cards. I would love to be a a person who says, “oh, I was up early this morning because I had to get in my 15 miles before breakfast. You know, I am training for a marathon.” Or like the young woman I stood next to in line recently. She was sporting a boot brace on her leg, so I asked her how she hurt herself. She said, “I got a stress fracture while running a half marathon last weekend. I overdid it a bit when I got to the finish line and just kept going and ran the full thing.”

Who are these people?

There is a running-friendly mix on my iPod with copious amounts of Usher, Ludacris and Pitbull, which works well for picking up my feet, but nothing for my disdain for the activity. I feel less like the majestic mare on the misty beach and more like a beached seal on dry land.


As you can clearly see, I have convinced myself that am not and will never be a runner. Precisely because I believe in the image of the beached seal, I have little chance of ever becoming the majestic mare. A reality which lies just a few miles and a looping Pitbull and JoLo remix away from where I stand today. Each of us have false narratives. Those stories we tell ourselves so many times that we begin to believe them.

This is {one of} mine. What’s yours?

Avec Mes Enfants


S2S Day 81: 01 | 18 | 13


The City of Dallas Says, ‘NO’ and We Say, “WHA?”

S2S Day 81

Yet another redesign has commenced in light of a rather curious setback requirement. We see your setback, City of Dallas, and raise you a lovely cantilevered jewel instead. Sure, we huddled in a nearby corner in the fetal position for a few minutes and then came back with an even better solution. Now, can a girl get a foundation please?

World in the Palm of Your Hand


Entry #1: The End is the Beginning

An Excerpt from 33 Days

by: Amber Curry Gracia

33 days

February 2, 2012

Three years ago, I sat alone in a typical coffee shop on an almost sparkling winter’s day. As the sun poured through the smeared glass, there I sat – lost, miserable and desperate for change. I had made up an imaginary commitment so that I might huddle myself away. A day with a pen, spiral notebook and an endless carafe of some locally-roasted variety. I started to write with no idea where it would lead. Since words weren’t really my thing, I started with what I knew – mapping. Soon, the first pages became the mapping of my discontent. Random musings about when I felt happy and when not so much. All organized into neatly drawn charts and graphs, in keeping with my analytical madness.

I didn’t know how else to sort things out.

Equipped with the most infantile self-evaluation techniques, I thought the best way to move forward might just be to work my way backwards from the end. That is of course, the end of my life. I thought perhaps then I could work my way back to this sunny coffee shop in my rubber band town and chart a more fulfilling path forward.

Maybe they are going to need to refill this carafe…

I began to write out a list of things that I hoped would form the story of this life. I then boiled it all down to one simple line. One single accomplishment. To leave my children with one inherent belief.

They can do anything, everything and anywhere. Always.

Simple enough.

On that same page, I jotted a small but important note to myself, “place my feet on African soil.”

When I wrote those words, I would have never believed that, a mere three years later, I would find myself making preparations to climb the slopes of Kilimanjaro. Even that word, “Kilimanjaro,” seems like something reserved for the pages of someone else’s story, not mine.

This journal will chronicle how this story pans out. I sit here eleven days away from placing these narrow feet upon the soils of Africa and 33 days away from writing the next chapter of my story. Why 33 days? Well, because I have a maniacal need to do and list things in triplicate. So, here’s how it’s going to go…

Part One – The Lead Up

The eleven days before departure. A time to think about Africa and this challenge in abstraction. A destination filled with anticipation and much expectation.

Part Two – The Experience

The eleven days from take off to landing. A time during which I will stand atop of the roof of Africa. The memories in the making, the misery and shared adventure. The time when I will see first hand what this girl is made of.

Part Three – The Aftermath

The eleven days after return. A time of reflection and reconciliation of the impact made. Perhaps a touch of elegant transformation, perhaps heaps of regret.

That is 33 days divided into three neatly packaged parts. Not two, not four, but three equal parts.

Neatly so, because I like things that way.

S2S Day 71: 01 | 08 | 2013


A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall

010813 DFW Radar