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Thoughts on Phoenix and introspection

We're in the Phoenix area.

I have to catch myself from referring this area as northern Arizona. After being in Tucson and near the Mexico border, it feels like northern Arizona. Though I've been to Flagstaff more times than I can count, it feels more like a dot near the northern Arizona border slightly north of Phoenix. There's miles of Arizona land north of Flagstaff.

Phoenix is an intriguing city. I haven't spent much time researching it.
A major reason: Mr. F always said it didn't want to live here. Two other major reasons: It ranks midrange to low with
SustainLane and isn't named as a great city for creative people by Richard Florida, author of "The Rise of the Creative Class" and WhosYourCity? website.

• Recently, Phoenix started its first commuter rail (lightrail) line. They are thinking forward.
• It has more of a cosmopolitan feel than Tucson.
• Just found out Arizona has a 100-year water sustainability plan.
• There are a ton of museums here, though I need to research Phoenix' art community.
• The weather is perfect.
• There must be more positives. More research is required ... though, why? when you have some of these negatives:

• The economy sucks here. One of the worst jobless and foreclosure rates in the country. The city, according to a group of 8 or 9 Phoenix police officers, say the city's economy depends on growth, and the city is not growing right now. It's up there struggling like Las Vegas. That sounds horrible.
• According to SustainLane, the air quality is worse than Houston, Chicago, Las Vegas and El Paso (places I've experienced with bad air pollution). It ranks 47th out of 50 in this survey, with Mesa, LA and Long Beach, Calif., ranking worse.
• Major urban sprawl.
• Tons of strip malls with national chain stores. Chain stores aren't bad, however, they don't bring character to an area and they don't allow for localized creativity. My opinion. I'm comparing to Austin. Austin is tops in locally-owned, successful businesses.

After months of encouraging us to stay with them when we arrive in Phoenix, we've taken up the offer from
Ross Franklin and his wonderful wife, Erika Keenan. They seem all right with sharing our experiences on the internet, so I feel comfortable sharing their names and internet presence.

Ross and I worked together at The Daily Orange junior/senior year.
He's a photojournalist, having spent most of his career with The Washington Times.  About six years ago, Ross and Erika decided to leave the chaos of D.C., and moved to Phoenix. Ross works for The Associated Press here. Staying with them, seeing Ross' photographs adorning the walls of their home, it's an instant reminder: I worked with some truly talented people at The Daily Orange. Besides Ross' clear success, our college newspaper staff produced at least one reporter for The Wall Street Journal, reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Executive Editor for advance.net (my former parent company) and, even Senior Producer for World Wrestling Entertainment. That's all I'm gonna try to name ... we could be here all day otherwise!

So I'm feeling like an incredible hack. Where did I go wrong?
Taking that first job right outta college as Features Editor for the then known, Hammond Times (now The Times of Northwest Indiana)? Eh, probably staying too long with The GRP. That has to be the great mistake, encouraged by fear of less money and fear of rejection. In the beginning, I was so enthusiastic about everything. Being insecure, when others beat down my ideas, I took these rejections as rejections of me. Then complacency set in. Not a great situation. AND I stayed. What was I thinking?

Well, I finally jumped off the precipice. New beginnings await. One is being dangled in front of me as I write this entry.