Desert Southwest Snyder Memorial Day | 19

Family and Friends:

I live in Arizona now.

Yes, I know it’s hot in Arizona. And yes, I know it’s going to be getting hotter.

One thing I wasn’t prepared for when I made this life-altering decision to move here was just the sheer volume of people who were going to tell me that the weather in Southern Arizona tended to get toasty. Virtually everyone I meet mentions it.

But honestly, the fact that the weather is usually hot is not one of Tucson’s ‘best-kept secrets.’ I like to egg them on by saying, “What do you mean it’s GOING to get hot out? It’s 97 today.”

That gets them going.

“Ooooooo, it’s going to get A LOT hotter than this.”

The implication … you probably shouldn’t have move here or you’ve just joined us in our misery.

I just say, “Thanks for the heads-up.”

In Colorado, I lived in a house with 3,600-square-feet of space and a three-car garage.

In Arizona, I live in a 454-square foot room with an uncovered parking space just outside.

It’s the old manager’s house for the apartment complex I live next to … so I can use the community washer and dryer and pool, which are both right behind my place, which I’ve nicknamed ‘the bunker’ or ‘the shed.’ I love it. I’m eight minutes from work and I live very close to a lot of cool things, like the Loft Cinema, an eclectic movie house; Bookmans, a large used book store; Casa Video, where you can watch and rent movies, eat free popcorn or trailer food and get a drink at the bar while playing trivia.

The car that I park outside of my house is a 2016 Mazda CX5. Picked it up just a couple days before the long drive to the borderlands.

It’s one of those smart cars. The kind of car I need at my age with my diminishing mental acuity. The car beeps when you’re about to get into an accident, which happens more often than you would imagine. It’s a helpful feature. However, I don’t know all of the features just yet. I spent the first night on the road in Albuquerque. At 11 p.m., I was lying in bed, when I wondered if I locked the car.

So, I threw on some clothes and walked outside.

Now a normal person would get just close enough to their car and hit the lock button on the ‘keyless’ entry device thingy. But I wanted to see if I had, in fact, locked the car or not, so I walked out to the car.

I tried the driver’s door and it was indeed locked. Now a normal person would turn around and go back to the hotel, but I did not do that. I try the back door. It too is locked, but I … for some unknown mental-disease-having reason … continue checking to see if I locked the car.

I try the trunk.

It is unlocked.

What the fuck!

I shut the trunk and hit the lock button on the keyless entry do-hickey.

I attempt to open the trunk, which I clearly just locked, and it opens again.

What the fuck!

Perhaps something is lodged somewhere keeping the trunk from closing completely, I thought.

I push all of my belongings in as far as they go. I shut the trunk. I lock it again. And try it again.


Maybe the door needs to be slammed very hard. Maybe I should try using the lock in the front door panel. Maybe I should retry everything I just tried six or seven hundred times.

Motherfucker! What the fuck!

I climb in the passenger side door and pull out the owner’s manual. I can’t find anything about the ‘trunk,’ so I look up “hatchback.’ Nothing. I can’t find those items because Mazda has ingeniously relabeled the universally-understood word, ‘trunk,’ and replaced it with the sexier, more modern term, “liftgate.”

I shit you not. How did I not know that?

And here’s what I read about the fucking liftgate in the fucking owner’s manual as sweat is pouring out of my body.

“With the advanced keyless function, a locked lifegate can be opened while the key is being carried.”

In other words, my car can sense when I’m nearby and have the key in my pocket … and knows that I want to get into the truck … so the car puts all that together and unlocks the trunkgate.

As Pee Wee Herman once said, “Nobody hipped me to that dude.”

I think this technology was developed by the fine folks from Skynet.*

The next morning, driving parallel to our southern border on Easter Sunday, I am hit with the realization that I neglected to pack the clothes I had left hanging in my closet back in Colorado.

Also known as my ‘work clothes.’

It was Easter Sunday, and I was starting my new job the very next morning.

So, when I got to town, I headed to the only store open on Easter … Walmart.

Now I typically do not shop at Walmart for anything, let alone clothes, but my time at Walmart was fruitful. I found a long-sleeve shirt with a snappy, checkered pattern for $15 and a similarly sporty short-sleeve for $10.

Soon Rose shipped out clothes from the closet and the Clothes Crisis of 2019 was over.

But there is a lesson to be learned here. The clothes I have in Tucson represents a fraction of all the clothes that used to hang in the closet. I’ve done a lot of pruning. I learned that I don’t need all those clothes or, as it turns out, all of that stuff.

That’s a good lesson I think.

I’m also doing my own grocery shopping for the first time since I lived in a dormitory. I wanted to make a change with my diet, so I started a program with a food coach, Anita Nall, called “Fit from Food.” Anita was one of my favorite Olympians from swimming. She won a bronze, silver and gold medal in 1992 at the Barcelona Olympic Games.

Each week I print out worksheets, watch videos, learn about food, and ask questions during a live video meeting. I’m trying to change how I eat and I appreciate Anita’s help. I’ve made a number of significant ‘simple switches,’ working to get more protein, healthy fats and vegetables onto my plate; limiting sugar and avoiding foods that cause inflammation.

Work has been awesome, especially the people and the benefits. World-class.

My first couple of weeks were filled with newsworthy items.

On day two, I was on a call with the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. A painting by Willem de Kooning was stolen from our Museum of Art in 1985 and recovered in 2017. Recently, we gave the painting, valued at $100M, to the Getty for conservation. The whole story is worldwide news; a documentary is in the works.

I’m working on a national media plan for an October event featuring Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer David Hume Kennerly and Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Jon Meacham.

I wrote a story about a photography professor, David Taylor, who recently had the New York Times review his exhibition. He and his artistic partner placed 47 obelisks along the 2,400-mile, original 1812 U.S.-Mexico border, so one of the obelisks was in Leadville, Colorado. The exhibition and project discussed the transitory nature and history of borders.

I’ve learned that our UA Arts District concept is way more ambitious than I knew and comes with a large fundraising goal, in which I will have a role.

Plus, I went to a year-ending performance in dance, ventured downtown for the student film festival, “I Dream in Widescreen.” I especially liked our production of the musical, Spring Awakening, in our black-box theatre. We have amazingly talented students. The dance program is ranked second in the nation for public universities and the acting/musical theatre program is ranked fifth.

I also saw the national touring production of Cats, which, if you haven’t seen it, is a musical about cats.

Finally, I do realize that it’s going to be getting hotter out, but I’m thankful to be here and I’m thankful that this month has been the fifth-coolest May in Tucson history.

Someone’s looking out for me.

And I think that someone is my car.


*the evil computer system developed by the U.S. military in the movie, “Terminator.”

This entry was posted in Christmas Letters. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Desert Southwest Snyder Memorial Day | 19

  1. Linda DuVal says:

    Charlie; What a fun way to catch up on how you are doing — and WHAT yo are doing. Sound like life is very different, but also satisfying, and you seem happy! that’s the bottom line, dude!

  2. Toni Woods says:

    I am more excited than ever for my daughter to audition for the theatre program now. Tough odds, I’m sure, but worth a shot. If you and Rose are looking for a liberal, diverse church I have a great suggestion for you. It was founded more than 50 years ago by my late mother in law’s boyfriend who is still involved. My daughter was Christened there. The church is very active in the community. Hope to see you in Tucson one day!

  3. Laura Voet says:

    Life is better than fiction. Thank you for always finding the joy and humor in every situation. So happy for you and this next adventure in Arizona. Yeah, it’s hot there, but at least it isn’t humid too! Always look on the bright side. The desert landscape is beautiful. Always shake your boots/shoes out before you put them on!

  4. Charlie says:

    What’s the church?

  5. Charlie says:

    Thanks Laura. I always enjoy hearing from you; you always make me feel good.

  6. Charlie says:

    Linda … so far, so good. I saw some live music last night at an old motel that has been repurposed into a little venue in the courtyard. The old rooms are now artist studios. And the singer was P.D. Ronstadt of the Tucson Ronstadts, i.e., his aunt is Linda. So good.

  7. Tricia says:

    Good reading entertainment, as always! I hope you enjoy the new job. And the heat.

  8. Charlie says:

    Thanks Trish!

  9. Mary Scott says:

    Best of luck on your new adventures! I think someone as cool as you can handle the desert heat.

  10. Charlie says:

    Thanks Mary.

  11. Rachel says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, as I do everything you write, Charlie. I also love the photo of your car at sunset. Your new job sounds awesome and I’m glad life in Tucson is going well so far. (I hope you know, though, that it’s going to get much hotter there.)

  12. Charlie says:

    Thanks Rachel. Your opinion means a lot to me.

  13. Mark reinhiller says:

    Chasman, you always put a smile
    On my face with your wise prose. In Orlando for CoSIDA and will have dinner with Me. Poore and Mr. Vaden. Wish you were here. You’re my boy Blue!

  14. Charlie says:

    REINO!!! Good to hear from you my friend. I wish I was there too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *