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This website is now published on my mobileme account. Any opinions expressed, however, are totally my responsibility.

The original website was published through the courtesy of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Jim Andris, Sept. 17, 2003.

Christmas 73

Merry Christmas,

It doesn't seem like a year has come and gone since my last letter; so many changes have taken place. That includes a sister-in-law, a new niece or nephew, a new house, a new car, new friends, a new hobby, and a new outlook on life.

Tom got married to Dee Dunn on Nov. 30. I was best man. It was a beautiful wedding, but a bad scene later. It seems that when Dee's brother got married she threw key-punch confetti from where she worked into his car, so he decided to and did throw something from where he worked into her car when she got married. He works on a pig farm. Some of it hit the groom, too. Things are patched up now and everyone is waiting to see if sister Vicki's second child will be a Capricorn or an Aquarius. (Actually, she would like a girl.)

That brings up my new hobby, astrology. Last week I guessed three out of four sun signs or rising signs of people. When you get into astrology, it is a lot more deep than the things you read in the paper. I'm a Sagittarius with Aqarius rising, which means basically free, independent, and wide-ranging with a concern for liberty and justice for all. But I have an Aries moon. . . I am even hooking a 40" diameter rug which shows the birth chart of a friend. (A birth chart gives the positions of all the planets and signs when a person was born.)

Now, both these hobbies kept me diverted while I took a six month leave of absence from my job and finished my Ph. D. (Doctor of Philosophy in Philosophy of Education) Yes, December 13 at Bloomington, Indiana four professors raked my dissertation over the coals and decided that six years (12 if you count my masters) was long enough for anybody to be in school after graduating from college. I tend to agree.

Then it was back to the St. Louis area for good. The next night I played at Reidel's for the second week as keyboard man and vocalist in the Ray Austin Trio. This is more jazz with some rock and popular. We enjoy it, and there was a small but appreciative audience last week. Last spring Cold Harbor, a rock group I was in, had to break up because Ellen, the lead singer, wanted to pursue opera and I, of course, had to go back to Indiana to finish the dissertation. But we sure had some beautiful times while it lasted. Harry's place in Gillespie, Illinois will never be quite the same without Ellen.

I will start teaching again in January and am looking forward to being in the classroom again. I have released time next quarter to write a new currriculum for the Teaching-Learning Center in Belleville, Illinois. Student teachers get a chance at more practical experience there than in the old program, which was mostly on campus.

I am living in a neat, new 3 bedroom home in a beautiful rural setting which I am buying with David Jonathon Miller. His black and white woodcut prints of animals, nudes, and children adorn the walls. For two bachelors who are both artists (if you grant that music is a fine art), we get along rather well. Dave also teaches kindergartenand pre-school and has had lead roles in local theater.

Our house on Glen Crossing Road
View across the road from the house
Our living room
David Jonathan in his basement studio

Dave was very interested in Transactional Analysis this spring when I met him. That is the theory that every person is either behaving as a child, an adult, or a parent in all his relationships with other people. By analyzing relationships between people to determine what ego state (child, etc.) they are coming from, games are discovered. These games are a result of the script the person received from paretns and peers when a child. They keep a person from relating to other people in a healthy way: "I'm OK-You're OK" as Thomas Harris' best selling book puts it. You can break your script and become free, but first you have to discover what it is.

I've discovered a lot about myself through this means. I feel that I've become more able to relate to more kinds of people and stay in an appropriate ego state than before. I'm trying to keep the parts of my script that I like and rewrite the other parts to suit myself. But self-examination is very difficult.

Through Dave I've met a circle of very dear friends—Beth Helm, Beth Bumgarner, and Dan Butterfield—who have become a sort of extended family. We hope it keeps growing. Our travels back and forth between Chicago and St. Louis haven't done much to ease the energy crisis, however. We will all be spending Christmas together in Chicago.

Dab Butterfield clowning around
Chris Isley and son, Beth Helm, and David
Bruce Meisner and Beth Bumgarner
Party for David in Chicago

Here's wishing you harmony, hope and happiness in the coming year. I hope our continued harmony as friends will bring us happiness as we continue to exchange Christmas greetings over the coming years.

Your friend,

Jim Andris