January 5, 2007
Only five more days until the Legislative Session starts. Hard to believe. It’s here. People keep asking me, “Are you ready?” I don’t know that I’m ready, but I’m sure going to show up.In fact, we’re not entirely ready just yet. My incoming staff and I have been working on every aspect of getting ready — meeting with constituents, beginning to draft legislation, studying, reading everything we can get our hands on, and organizing our operation.But we don’t have an office.As of this morning, there’s space set aside for us. There’s a neat little plaque outside the door that correctly spells my name. But it looks more like they’re storing furniture for the rest of the Capitol in there.I’ve been repeatedly told since I was a child, “Patience is a virtue rewarded.” I’m also told it will all come together before Tuesday, and maybe I shouldn’t have expected to have an office until the day I, you know, take office. So, despite my uneasy relationship with imperturbability, I’ll try to spend the next couple of days in serene acceptance of my surroundings, even though they aren’t room E1.712 of the Texas Capitol Extension.Whether or not the new office looks like a storage room on Tuesday, January 9th (and it won’t), we’re having an Open House from 10:30 until 2:00. Of course, that’s the day all the Senators, new and returning, will be sworn in. The actual ceremony on the Senate floor, which starts at noon, is a ticketed deal, and each of us is given a limited number of tickets.We will also elect a President Pro Tem of the Senate at that time. We’ll have televisions in the office, so those who come to the Open House and want to watch the ceremony can do so. I’d love to see you there. And, if you come by when I’m already on the floor, introduce yourself to the team of people who will be working with me.Given the utter lack of state political news lately, a handful of reporters have seen fit to write about me. If you’re as interested in seeing my name in the paper as I seem to be, check out these stories from the Dallas Morning News, the Austin Business Journal, and the Austin American-Statesman.Liz, the boys, and I snuck away for a few days of skiing over the holiday. Unlike Ah-nold — who, let’s face it, I resemble only physically — I came away with no injuries.But I’m sad to report that I’ve reached another milestone — my children are passing me as skiers. Even the 11-year-old is pushing me to go down black-diamond slopes that I’d prefer to avoid. Being “the Dad”, though, I followed him down the summit. And, I acted like it was nothing.Now, don’t think for a minute that this has anything to do with me getting older just as they are hitting their prime skiing ages. I’m still quite the skier, if I do say so myself. And, my stylish way of just pointing the skis down the hill and letting gravity do its thing continues to turn heads. (As Ricky Bobby says, “I want to go fast”.)It’s just that the boys are getting good. Preston even beat me in a rematch of a race we had last year. Sure, he may have appeared to beat me last year, but I swear he jumped the gun. This year, I started us to avoid such a thing. And he graciously responded to my accusations of unfairness by not just beating me, but stomping me. It will cost him (though that kind of declaration doesn’t sound as ominous as it used to).Where was I . . . Oh, right. Taking office.The Senate traditions are pretty neat. They give you a sense of history and, at least for me, a feeling of how big this service is and should be.One tradition involves the spouse of the Senator. It seems that Liz is a new member of a long-standing group known as the “Senate Ladies Club.” This group was started many years ago by the wives of those fine gentlemen who served in the Senate. I suppose that, though times have changed just a little bit, the club has seen no need to change its name to accommodate those spouses who are not female.Anyway, a tradition of this group is to have a fancy dinner on the night before the Session starts. All of the Senators come, as do the Lieutenant Governor and, often times, the Governor. Former Senators also are invited, and many join in.A new member of the Senate is introduced to the group by his wife. (I’m told the husband can do it if the Senator is the woman in the equation, although certainly not as well.) So, the spouse of the Senator gives a short speech introducing the new member. In my case, this means Liz will be introducing me in what we hope will be a complimentary way.Seriously, this is a neat deal. It’s part of the Senate’s traditional way of kicking off the session, and we’re honored to be a part of it.So, after a little break with Liz and the kids, lots of preparation, and so much celebration, it’s time to get a haircut, shine my shoes, and get this thing started.