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September 28, 2007

Uh oh, she's back in the wayback machine

My friend and resident of Albuquerque told me that the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is well nigh….

Yup, starts October 6.

Let's start with this query…how in the utter $#*&!!! did it get to be October already?

So I was telling my mom I'm considering going to ABQ for the fun and staying with my friend as she lives near the right part of town.

Then I said "of course, anymore it's a complete pain in the ass to go to the fiesta"

That kicked off a step right into the wayback machine.

She said "yeah, remember how it used to just be in a big empty field and we'd go and get right up close, your dad would talk to the balloonists and before you know it, we'd all be holding a corner of cloth, helping them inflate it? That doesn't happen anymore."

No, it sure doesn't.

Remember when the Balloon Fiesta didn't have sponsors? It was just a bunch of ballooning guys getting together for some fun and competition.

Remember when they flew out of Cutter Field? Yeah, that flight path used to take them over our house in the northeast heights (somewheres around Montgomery and San Pedro). I used to dash out to the backyard and wave and try to talk to the balloonists. They were always nice, good for a wave at least if they were low enough.

I remember drinking scalding hot chocolate out of that battered green Coleman thermos, trying to warm my hands and frozen nose, bundled up against a cold October morning at like, oh-dark-thirty.

We'd help some guy my dad just met (my dad never met a guy he didn't know) get his balloon off the ground, then we'd leap into our battered blue and white Chevy Blazer and help chase.

Ya can't do that anymore. Insurance and progress and all that rot, I suppose.

I also remember when I used to work for Honeywell back in 1993. That's when the balloons had already moved to their new location, the Balloon Fiesta Park, which is catty corner to Honeywell. It was HELL getting to work, but I'd go inside, get a cup of coffee, then go back outside with all my coworkers and watch the morning show. Special shapes day was always the best.

When it gets to be this time of year when the nights and mornings are cold but the days warm up nicely, I still look to the sky hoping to see ornaments hanging there, listening for the whoosh of propane. The conditions aren't right here in the Bay Area. Sometimes I sure miss a sky hung with colorful balloons. Nothing like it in the world.

September 27, 2007

It's going away, isn't it?

My friend. My companion. That comfort at the end of a long day's work, driving home, watching the sun go down, laughing, cheering, listening. It's leaving me again, just as the world turns cold. It always leaves me just when the sun starts setting sooner, when the chill rolls in, when the leaves turn. Just when I need it the most, it's gone.

My old friend and joy, baseball, is leaving me again this weekend.

The San Francisco Giants played their last home game of 2007 last night, made all the more bittersweet as, after fifteen crazy years, it was the last game Barry Bonds will play in a Giants uniform.

It was year of agony and ecstasy.

Ecstasy: The San Jose Giants, the Minor League Single A affiliate, and a group of young 'uns near and dear to my heart performed a miracle. Coming on strong in the first half and falling off hard in the second half, they still earned their way into the playoffs and prevailed. They are the 2007 California League Champions. They played an amazing post season and just brutalized Lake Elsinore in game 5, the deciding game. I get goose bumps just thinking about it. This was a hard working team of guys who learned how to win, and a tip of the cap to manager Lenn Sakata for taking yet another team to the post season.

Agony: Their big brothers to the North, however, didn't fare so well. With three games left, they've lost 89 games and are a gut-turning 18.5 games out of first place.

This was the season that Bonds broke the all-time homerun record, walloping 756 over the walls and into the history books. But all the media glare, both positive and negative, had an impact on the other 24 guys on the roster. Starting pitching was ok (I won't "go there" about the pitiful year Barry Zito had…I just…can't…), the bullpen was ridiculous and hitting was lame. They went up there with sad and tired bats. And our star catcher bitched about it to the press.

It was not a glorious year. It's the latest in all the depressing seasons we've endured after the joys (and pain) of the 2002 World Series.

Ownership says 2008 is a "rebuilding" year. That means some young kids, some no names, and no hope of a post season for at least a couple more years.

But even in the agony of this terrible season, it was there. Baseball was on the radio every night, 162 games a year. The bases were still 90 feet apart and it was still 60 feet, six inches from mound to plate. The Umps still missed calls, players were plunked, miracles were performed and for me, all was all right with the world.

I had a day yesterday for the record books, and as I drove home, looking into the setting sun, sad, mad, exhausted, apathetic, beat down, and depressed as hell, I reached out and touched the "power" button on my radio, and suddenly Jon Miller's voice boomed out from my radio speakers, "a called strike one!" and I left behind my troubles. My sorrow. My bone wearying exhaustion and I listened to the game. Smiling at strikes, frowning at balls and batting my hand on the steering wheel when the boys in orange and black got a hit and cheering loudly in my car.

I don't give a rip about any of the teams in the post-season, although I may watch a few games. It's not the same when it isn't your team fighting it out.

*sigh* Now what? My baseball friend becomes a hockey fan in the off-season. I like hockey, but not with that fever reserved for baseball.

Guess instead, it's time to start thinking about what in the hell I'm going to write 50,000 words about for the annual NaNoWriMo.

Heh…three years ago I wrote a baseball book……

September 25, 2007


It's a gas, innit?

I mean, all the magazines tell you that it's bad, bad, bad. Your doctor will say don't have it. You know it's not good. And yet, there it sits, on your chest, choking you in the middle of the night.

And stress brings all its friends to come play, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, achy joints, chronic back pain, illness, pain, suffering, blight, famine, hoards of locusts.

It's one of those really cool biological things that helped us a ton when being chased by a saber toothed tiger or avoiding trampling from a woolly mammoth. It's what got us through the rough, less industrial, times and into what we have today.

What do we have today?

Made up stress. Adrenaline pumps through my veins giving me that wild "flight or fight" rush. Really, I'm a flight kind of girl. That seems best for all. But nooooo, I have to stay and fight, which stresses me out more...ain't that a fun twist?

And what am I fighting? Words on a piece of paper. I am not making this up.

Everything I am doing today, all these things that stress me out, give me heart palpitations, make me aspirate my own stomach acid in the middle of the night, cause me to lose sleep and be a terrible partner to the man I love more than anything is something that matters only in the four walls of this gray cubicled office where I earn my paycheck. Sure, all this agony and no ecstasy means I continue to get paid and am in line for a measly (and I do mean measly) raise this year. I should be thankful, right?

I'm not.

I’m angry. Perhaps being angry is just an acceptable way to mitigate what I'm really feeling. No wait, what I'm really feeling is anger. For a lot of reasons.

Mainly, I’m tired. Real tired. Perhaps a good night's sleep (which probably won't come for at least another week) might better my outlook. I don't know.

Ok, back to it.

Hope you all are having a much less stressful day.


September 20, 2007

Walk to the theme song of your life

I was watching the new Tim Gunn show on Bravo this evening. If you don't know who Tim Gunn is, then you haven't been watching Project Runway.

Mr. Gunn is known for his quiet understatement and has become one of heroes, best known for his catch phrase "make it work".

A phrase I've adopted and use liberally at work. To the point my staff is tired of hearing it. I decided if they were going to come into my office multiple times a day with all manner of whining, I'd lob it back.

"My clients won't tell me what the budget is for this project!"

"Make it work"

"The supplier is being unreasonable, we can't get this done by quarter end!"

"Make it work"

"Management hasn't given us any knowledge about this secret squirrel project! I can't support it!"

"Make it work"

They usually give me a dirty look and stomp out.

Anyhoo....while watching an episode of "Tim Gunn's Guide to Style", he took one of his victims to a "lifestyle coach" to help her feel more confident. The theory being if you are more confident you'll dress more confident, I guess.

The lifestyle coach told this meek young lady that she should always "walk to the theme song of your life" and made her walk back and forth around the room. Poor thing couldn't manage a hip swing to save her life, but she did manage to loosen up a bit during the course of the show.

I sat here on my red couch and tried to decide what, exactly, is the theme song of my life. I guess it's never really just one, right? It changes based on what's going on.

Then I remembered earlier today. I walked over to a meeting in another building with the buds to my iPod shuffle jammed deeply into my ears. A bit of music helps me huff it across a quite busy street and get to meetings on time.

I've got a mind blowing change about to occur at work. Mind blowing in a very, very bad way. My boss dropped this incendiary bit of news on Tuesday and I've not recovered.

Discretion being the better part of valor, and god knows who reads blogs these days, I shan't go into details. But suffice to say, it ain't good.

So with my Shuffle set to...er...shuffle, I was walking determinedly and muttering under my breath when the song came on. The song I think is the theme of my life for right now.

The tune is "Headstrong" by Trapt.

Sample lyrics:
"Back off I'll take you on/headstrong to take on anyone/I know that you are wrong and this is not where you belong"

I started walking with strong footfalls. Head up, eyes roving looking for someone who might dare to take me on. I almost punched the air.

Yeah. This will work for today. Without even knowing it I'd "walked my theme song".

Maybe I'll start dressing better too?

What's YOUR theme song?

September 17, 2007

Sign of the times?

I am probably the wrong person to make comment on the current state of the economy. I don't know much, I don't watch enough TV or read enough newspapers. I know what I have seen in headline news suggests that people can't pay mortgages on their homes (fall out of some questionable, maybe shady, lending practices and a rise in interest rates) and that rentals are on the rise, people duking it out over the good places (much like back in the dot.com days, I personally put up a good fight to get the first place I rented when I moved).

The Bay Area is an odd place to gauge wealth. I live amongst some of the wealthiest people in the world (hello, Silicon Valley). But given the cost of living around here, there are also a lot of people barely scraping by. From where I'm sitting, it would seem the middle class is evaporating. Seeing as how I'd call myself middle class, I often wonder on which end of the scale I'm going to end up when the water's dried up and sides have been chosen.

Right now in the economy, I know there are plenty of jobs to be had. I know this because I am having a devil of a time finding candidates for the two jobs I'm personally hiring for. All the good people have good jobs. And the so-so people want too much money because they know the market is hot and they can ask for the outrageous. And usually they get it.

I see a lot of wealth around me. But this weekend gave me pause for thought. What am I missing?

Twice this weekend I was witness to shoplifting. Well, I guess neither could rightly be called shoplifting but maybe a form of, I suppose.

Saturday I saw a woman taking money from a tip jar at the coffee shop. I know the employees of the shop don't rely solely on tips to make it work, it's incidental, but at the end of the day, the woman was audaciously reaching in and stealing dollar bills that weren't hers.

Sunday I saw a woman at the grocery eating food she clearly didn't intend to pay for.

The first woman looked desperate, like she needed every bit she could get. The second lady looked like money wasn't a problem...but looks can be deceiving, I know.

In neither case did I report on the so-called "victimless crimes". I didn't know what to do. I know that stores boost up their prices to pay for the inventory shrink. I know I ultimately pay for the theft out of my own pocketbook.

But both incidents got me to thinking about what heights or what lows would I resort to if I was desperate, hungry, out of work and out of money.

I can't say that I wouldn't be the one stealing a dollar from a jar if I got down to it.

But then I can't say that I would either. I don't know.

Both incidents made me sad. And made me wonder what is going on in our economy. I mean, it could be a random event. Or could it be a trend?

Guess today is a day about counting my blessings, in all forms.

September 15, 2007


Submitted some writing work. Results due yesterday. Felt really good about the piece. Poured all of myself into it. Targeted to a small publication and what I wrote seemed right in their wheelhouse. Was hoping to get some traction, finally.


When I put that much into what I write (which is the only way I know how), a rejection of the work feels like a rejection of me. I know I have to get over that if I'm going to ever make any headway.

But still. I'm blue.

I'll give myself the weekend to mope. Come Monday, I'm gonna toss that leg back over that horse and get back to work.


September 14, 2007

The more things change

The more they stay the same...or so the saying goes.

Is that really true? It seems anymore that everything just changes. And changes. And changes.

Am I becoming my folks? Lamenting for days gone by. "Better days." "It didn't used to be like this."

Is it an inevitable side effect of passing years?

Somewhere along the way in my tenure here in the Bay Area, just over ten years now, I crossed a line, passed a barrier, ticked off a marker. I had finally lived here long enough that I could pine for "how it used to be."

Yesterday evening I had occasion to drive The Cute Boy™ to San Francisco. He's laid up with a bum ankle (don't ask). So Cute Boy is now Gimpy McGimperson on two crutches. He had some business in our fine City, so I took him there and decided to bide my time and wait for him to be done, más o menos, three hours all in.

So while waiting I decided to visit an old haunt in North Beach, a place I've waxed ecstastic about in these very pages. A lovely family owned restaurant called Sodini's. Owned by the venerable Mark Sodini, when I first moved, a hay-seed-in-my-hair girl from New Mexico, Sodini's was one of the few places I knew how to get to in that big mean city.

Back in those days I was trying to catch the eye of a local musician (it ended badly, don't ask) who played at the bar across the street. So I'd go to Sodini's for dinner and some liquid courage. It's always a bit weird being a girl going to a restaurant or bar alone, but any trepidation I had quickly dissolved in the kind presence of the good people of Sodini's. These folks couldn't have been more cordial, and kind, and they took good care of me, looked out for me, and became my friends.

So it was a melancholy bit of business to sit, once more, by myself on a barstool, drinking a well made drink and tucked into a gorgeous Caprese.

My eyes wandered to the strangely quiet Green street out the windows, and my retinas were burned by a neon sign blaring FAX, COPIES, PHOTOS. I said to Mark, "What's with the copy place? Didn't that used to be a frame shop?" He laughed and said "Yeah, but it's been a copy place for about two years."

Two years? How do two years slip past without me knowing it?

Then I looked over at the old North Beach Video shop. It's now an upscale restaurant (I don't even remember the name) and the video store moved into a much smaller space next door.

I started getting depressed. "My neighborhood is vanishing!" I thought, nervously sipping my drink and spooning in Minestrone for comfort. That sort of demoralized anxiety was setting in, until I really stopped, took a breath, and looked around.

There was Mark at the end of the bar playing liar's dice with Leo. I met Leo not long after I'd moved, on a night much the same. Leo owns Vesuvio, the bar next door to City Lights. If you are familiar with the Beat Generation writers, then those names mean something to you.

Leo has lived in North Beach for a long time. I can't quote how many years, but I'm guessing somewheres between forty and sixty. On that night way back then, Leo told me stories of North Beach. Told me how he used to own a coffee bar (in the first popular incarnation of coffee bars in America) and that he once paid Janis Joplin twenty bucks to play all night. I asked him questions about her with wide-eyed wonder, and he remembered her fondly, remembering her as "a little odd". He told me about Jefferson Airplane. And Grace Slick (who's long been a hero of mine). Told me they were good kids and he enjoyed them, but they drank too much.

This was amazing to me. A living history book. And last night, there he was again, taking everyone's dice and beating 'em all, like usual.

As I continued to gaze around the restaurant, I spotted a favorite waitress and the guy who used to work the door at the Grant & Green. And Mark said "You need another, Karen?" and I nodded. And he served it right up because he takes good care of his customers.

And I relaxed. And smiled. And let out a little bit of the whole lotta stress I've got working me.

Because everything might change. This world moves too fast. Everything looks different when you turn around and look again. And in this fast pace world, sometimes you just know that certain places will remain enough the same to keep you sane, and that's good enough for me.

(Don't even get me started on my fair New Mexico and what the hell has happened to my beautiful Albuquerque. Oy! Guess it's time to move somewhere new where I don't remember what it "used to be," and leave before I cross that same line again. Ah well, I love New Mexico. I love the Bay Area. And most of all, I love The Cute Boy™, and that is something that, good lord willing and the creeks don't rise, will always be there, growing a little stronger every day)

September 12, 2007


Back in April I had a chance to sound off about the kerfuffle involving the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe and Fisk University.

Fisk is the owner of the Alfred Stieglitz Collection (O'Keefe's husband) and since the university needs funds, they wanted to sell off a couple things. The museum made an offer and Fisk agreed to sell. Then the Tennessee Attorney General stepped in and said it wasn't enough money.

Everyone stepped back, negotiations were had, and a new price was agreed on. Everything looked great.

But reading today's ABQjournal, it seems things have gone south again.

Everybody was happy until one of the heirs to the Wal-Mart fortune (with scads of money, no doubt) decided she wanted the painting for an as yet to be opened museum being built in Arkansas.

Long way around the barn, since the museum has rights to the estate of O'Keefe they could have sued to take ownership, and Fisk could have lost the entire collection. A Tennessee judge actually thought the university should risk it. A big risk, I'd say, for a cash strapped university. Not only the cost of legal fees but the risk of losing a big collection. I'm dumbfounded.

In a move that makes me sad, but shows the nature of the O'Keefe museum, they've decided to back off. They see no need to punish Fisk in this whole process.

And in the end, no one wins.


Here is the painting again...the one causing all the fuss, "Radiator Building— Night, New York":

September 10, 2007

"Even for Albuquerque, this is pretty Albuquerque"

A great line uttered in a dark but entertaining movie, "Ace in the Hole" set in New Mexico.

Kirk Douglas utters it with convincing New York callousness to the editor of the fictional Albuquerque Sun-Bulletin. (I'm certain it doesn't apply to the reining king, the ABQjournal....right?)

And I laughed. I think he just called out the rasquache-ness that is my hometown!

I decided I might incorporate it into my lexicon. Expect to see it here, soon, in this blog.

"Ace in the Hole" is a "lost" Billy Wilder film, recently released on DVD. I heard about it in an article in the Albuquerque Tribune. The movie originally opened in 1951 to unfavorable reviews and box office. I can see why, this isn't a happy Hollywood film. It was nominated for an Academy Award for screenplay, and though it didn't win, it is a really well written story.

I'm surprised at how prophetic the movie is, a commentary on the circus nature of the media. The story, a man is trapped in a collapsed mine that is part of Native American sacred land. Kirk Douglas, a drunkard reporter fired from a variety of big town newspapers is looking for the big story to earn him back his New York job. He senses the story of the man trapped, convinced he's being punished by Native American spirits, is the kind of human interest story that will earn him his way back.

His scheme is successful. The news story catches fire and soon people are coming in droves to hang outside the mineshaft, waiting for the trapped man to emerge alive. It literally becomes a circus, complete with Ferris Wheel.

Kirk Douglas plays a truly unlikable character to perfection. And even in black and white, our beauty of a state looks great. The film is shot near Gallup and it has big skies and beautiful hills.

I enjoyed this lost gem of a film, liking it even better for its locale. If you like old films, this is worth the time. Don't expect to emerge happy, it's got a lot of bitter lines and hateful dialogue. But it's well made and enjoyable. And available from Netflix.

September 8, 2007

¡Feliz Cumpleaños!

Happy Birfday to Tingley Coliseum. The venerable old gal is 50 years old and like an aging film star, in close up, she's pretty much showing her age.

Doors opened for the first time in 1957 to kick of the New Mexico State Fair. Friday kicked off the 2007 Fair, and with that, Tingley ushered in her 50th festival of rodeo, cotton candy and all things New Mexico.

There is a pretty thorough article in the Albuquerque Tribune, an interview with Mahlon Love, former act who performed in the venue and also former State Fair commissioner.

In the story, Mahlon shares some memories from the long history of Albuquerque's most well known multi-use venue.

Being a child of Albuquerque, I've many of my own memories from Tingley. I remember my first rodeo, with entertainment from the aforementioned Freddy Fender. We sat way up in the nosebleed seats, on the bleachers, not seats with backs (my mom always was a cheapo).

We watched the rodeo first (always the best part), then afterward watched them tow out a stage and set it up. Then the lights went down. A shiny convertible came rolling out of chutes where the livestock had just been, a shadowy performer stepped on stage. The lights came up to cheers. And as Freddy began singing, the stage started slowly revolving.

"…in 1966, a revolving stage…was introduced in Tingley." Ah, the ubiquitous revolving stage.

Even as a kid I thought that was pretty damn rasquache.

Now, I get why they do it. Tingley wasn't meant to be a concert venue, and no one should pay good money to look at the hindside of a famous act for two hours. However, it really is kind of ridiculous, in a way only New Mexico can be.

I remember seeing Alison Krauss there in the mid-90's. She played one hell of a show, but made several comments throughout the night about how disorienting it was being on the spinning stage.

There has been many a great show at Tingley. The Garth Brooks show in 1996 seems to be one for the memory books. (It's mentioned in the article.) I was there, the guest of a supplier who had an extra ticket. I do remember Garth putting on one hell of a spectacle that night, like nothing I'd ever seen. I also remember that it was raining outside...and inside. As I sat there watching Garth work up a lather on stage, I was busy trying to avoid water running out of a leaky roof. Looking around I noticed several of us scootching and moving out of the way of the variety of leaky spots.

However, one of my most vivid memories was seeing Randy Travis (who I understand is playing the Fair again this year). I had *really* cheap seats, and ended up sitting at the very tippy top row. In fact, it was kind of nice because that bleacher rail in the very last row backed up to the wall of Tingley, so I actually had a makeshift seatback. I leaned back and enjoyed the show, singing along to the faves. Not that I could actually see the performer, but…you know.

The show was rolling along fabulously when Randy started up with "It's Just a Matter of Time", a song that was popular then and a fave of mine. I smiled as he sang and I sang along. Now, if you are familiar with this song, Randy has to hit some pretty low, low notes and Mr. Travis has a pretty deep voice. When he hit those deep bassy notes, the wall behind me, the one I was leaning against, noticeably vibrated. I'm not making this up, I could physically feel the walls shuddering as Randy sang "Iiiiiii knooooooow" (<--deep vibrating bass) "ooooh-whoa Iiiiii knooooow, that someday you'll wake up and fiiiind…"

That deep bass voice vibrated the walls, my backbone and my sternum....it was the most visceral music experience I'd ever known. I swear to God I thought Tingley was going to collapse from the strain, like a crystal wine glass in a storm of operatic vibrato. But she held, and has continued to hold up through the years for more raucous concerts than Randy damn Travis. I mean, Pearl Jam played there in 1998. If Seattle grunge angst rock can't bring down the walls, then a country crooner certainly can't.

I wonder if Randy can still hit those low notes? I wonder if the walls will rattle like that again this weekend? Would be cool to be there again to see.

Meanwhile, the venerable old Tingley still stands and welcomes a new crop of Fair goers into her rickety arms. The bulls and broncs will buck, the pretty girls will race barrels, and the crowd will look at a new cast of popular acts (spinning on a new spinning stage that comes down from the ceiling. Rasquache goes high tech).

She's a grand old girl with a lot of stories to tell and a lot more history yet to be made.

Gary Roller, former backup man to Michael Martin Murphey sums it up best (from the end of the Tribune article).

"You can't go anywhere else in the state and find that legacy," he said. "Roy Rogers opened the place, for goodness' sake."

(post updated to remove images)

September 7, 2007


That's quite a word, isn't it? Meanings can vary depending on what situation you are looking at. And it has more weight or less weight, as well, depending on how you're looking at it.

When I read Jim Belshaw's opinion piece"Writer Given Gift of Freedom yesterday in the ABQjournal, the word freedom was used in a way quite meaningful to me.

I'm both happy and raging ass jealous to read about a lady named Summer who gets to live my ultimate dream. My personal definition of freedom. Congratulations to Summer who is the winner of this year's A Room of Her Own Foundation $50,000 Gift of Freedom award.

Until today I was unfamiliar with A Room of Her Own, but I've now fallen in love with them based on this snip from their mission statement on their webpage, "… bridging the often fatal gap between a woman's economic reality and her artistic creation."

Which seems to be based on the Virginia Woolf quote in the middle of the page, "A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write."

Brings tears to my eyes, really.

But back to Summer. She lives in San Cristobal and believes she can make this $50,000 grant last her for two years, giving her a chance to take a break from her regular hardworking job and allowing her to write for a living.

From the article: "The obstacle of having to make a living while you're trying to write a novel or finish your short stories is gone," she said.

Damn. It's truly my deepest and fondest dream. To no longer be bound by gray cubicled walls, incessant emails, and the political bureaucracy. To break the bounds and let being creative be "what I do for a living."

I have a currently unfinished book that still swarms in my head. The characters live there, keeping residence until I finish telling their story, tenacious little buggars that they are. This is my fourth novel so I'm familiar with the drill. I will be haunted by the characters, without respite, until I type the words "The End". With that they will finally give me peace.

Taking two years off, and having the funds to do so. Ah. Yes. A little slice of heaven in my book.

So lots of props to Summer. It can't have been easy to win this grant. I'm sure competition was steep. It makes me smile to see a writer doing it, making it work, taking the time to let the Muse be the only boss she answers to.

$50,000 wouldn't run two years where I live but I'd sure love to have a go at it. Maybe in 2009? I see they've posted the application….hmmmmmm…..

Pardon me, I've got some dreaming to do on a no-wanna-work Friday.

September 6, 2007

End of days

Woke up this morning to a post-Apocalyptic looking sky. It's creeping out the Bay Area.

Owing to some pretty bad fires down in San Jose, the Bay Area skies are filled with smoke. It makes for spectacular sunsets, but can't be good for the lungs.

The sun this morning TOTALLY creeped me out.

Took a fast snap on my iPhone (below) which hardly does it justice. This photo in the SFGate doesn't really get there either.

Imagine a blood run sun on a vaguely gray sky. : shudder :

One radio DJ this morning called it a Zombie Sun.

It is a sad comment that instead of commuting to work, battling zombies under a blood red sky sounded more fun. Get mah Buffy ON!


Back to battling paperwork and whining employees (upon which, by law, I'm not authorized to use a wooden stake….) instead.

September 5, 2007


Why do shorter weeks always feel longer? This week is interminable and I'm only a day and a half into it. That can't be a good sign.

It doesn't help that The Cute Boy™ is bad sick. Like fevery, grumpy, not sleepy, it's-all-just-not-good kind of sick.

Nothing worse than being sick in the summer. Yes, I know that milestone of "Fall" has passed, but it's not "officially" Fall until later this month. And the fact that it's in the nineties here makes me definitely think summer, despite all the "back to school" hoo-hah that's wandering about. Welcome to Indian Summer. My fave time of year, actually.

The New Mexico State Fair starts this weekend. I distinctly remember getting a day off from school to go to the Fair. Hot, dusty, questionable, but my mom and I always went. You ain't lived until you've fought the bees to eat your honeyed fry bread while watching the Indian dances. Or until you've sat in rickety Tingley Coliseum singing along with Freddy Fender. Or Jerry Reed ("east bound and down…loaded up and truckin'…(see, I'm already tapping my toes)). Or yes, Roy Clark, a staple of the rodeo for years.

Ah….I can smell the cotton candy now.

Wish I could get a day off work so's my mom and I could eat our way through the Fair. Sometimes being a grownup is NO fun.

Then again, I’m meeting a friend for dinner tonight at a Cuban place. Here's the good part of being a grownup. Sometimes a Mojito cures a lot of whining.

So I guess this is really a blog post full of miscellany. No point. Just a bucketload of thoughts for a Hump Day afternoon.

Enjoy some early Jerry Reed:

September 4, 2007

Signs of growth

If there was ever a signal of burgeoning growth, not just in population, but devices as well, it has to be the area code split.

Soon after I moved to the Bay Area, we had a split. That was during that much ballyhooed Dot Com boom (remember that? Yeah…).

When I moved I had that coveted 415 area code (the area code of San Francisco). I had it a few months before it split, owing, they said to the cell phones, faxes, all the people working from home with extra lines and the fast growing population.

There's been a few more splits since, though none affecting me. I'm still rockin' the 650.

Our fair New Mexico had held firm all this time. I know there were rumors of an area code split a few years back, but it looks like it's here now. The 505 will now become the 505 and the 575.

: sniff : Our little state is growing up!

I guess I didn't think it was true, hearing only secondhand from friends, until I saw this article in today's Albuquerque Tribune (while it's still breathing).

Looks like it's a'gonna happen this October. Ya can't stop progress!

Rage on, Land of Enchantment! Rage on!!

On second thought…I'm not sure I'm happy about all this growth. Too many yahoolios jamming up the Big I yapping on their phones? Too many houses springing up outside of Las Cruces? People actually knowing what we know…that New Mexico livin' is pretty easy? Ugh!

Slow down, Land of Enchantment! Slow down!!!

September 1, 2007

Blast from the past

I've made it no secret here in these pages that I am a rabid baseball fan. I believe I've spoken most frequently of the San Francisco Giants. But I actually have another love. A first love. The one that wooed my heart for the very first time.

But that...in a minute....

I also have another love (a second love, I suppose) here in the Bay Area. In fact, this one came to me soon after I moved here. Before I'd even starting going to the "big boy's" club.

I had occasion last night to take in a last day of August game with the San Jose Giants. They are the single A farm team for the big boy Giants and are a hell of a lot of fun to watch.

When I moved here in 1997, I worked for a rough and tumble company and supported a team of folks who worked really hard doing very dangerous work. As such, it made them a tight knit group. I had the privilege of helping them in their work, and they took me on as "one of the family", and that family loved to have group outings. So not long after I'd been living here, they invited me out to the ballpark. I was already a huge fan of baseball so I happily agreed.

What greeted me at San Jose Municipal Stadium was unlike anything I'd ever seen. Built in the early 1940's as a WPA project, Muni had this amazing old school, Minor League charm characterized in movies like Bull Durham. Only better.

Muni comes with something called Turkey Mike's BBQ. A glorious bbq area with picnic tables and ribs to make you weep. It was the *best* food I'd ever enjoyed at a ballpark (to this day, still is), and we, a large group of congenial coworkers, sat at long tables and ate, got sauce on our cheeks and enjoyed the sun.

As the game got underway, with events, contests and fun at each half inning (the "Smash for Cash" still reigns supreme in my mind. An old panel truck careens out to the field, stops, and three of the San Jose pitchers compete on behalf of three fans. They throw baseballs at the truck and if they smash out a headlight, the lucky fan takes home $100), I was overcome with a sense of melancholy. A memory. A flicker of remembrance of my first love. And being that I had just moved here, the memory was powerful and the homesick overwhelming.

Needing to stretch my legs, I walked down "in the tunnel" to use the restroom and get something to drink. I strolled around taking in this new-to-me stadium.

And as if by kismet, I saw it. This old stadium, like many others, honors it's competition by displaying pennants representing each of the opposing teams in their same league. It is a pretty common practice. This stadium had them painted onto the walls, sort of a "walk of fame" as you go through the tunnels. And when I saw it, I had to weep. Literally, tears squeezed out and I stared, agog. It was a reminder, a sign, a connection.

I was a scared to death kid in the big town, just barely moved in, but fate saw fit to give me a moment of comfort, as if to say "it's ok kid, you can still be a New Mexico girl in California. No need to become something else. It all fits together, wait, you'll see."

And having been to Muni hundreds of times since that first time, now over ten years ago, I still always stop, give thanks, and physically lay hands on that symbol, for luck, for solidarity, for a connection to that girl I was ten years ago. That piece of comfort still brings me comfort.

Last night I decided to take a photo:

Seeing it that first time made me all the more sad because The Dukes had already left Albuquerque, moved to Portland, leaving my fair city with no baseball team. I yearned for them when I first saw this reminder, knowing the Dukes were no more, but remembering them as my first love. The one that mattered. I remembered the crappy Albuquerque Sports Stadium where they played, but that was assuaged by dollar beers and dollar hot dogs. I remembered sitting in the afternoon sun watching the game. For a brief while on a co-op job from college, I worked downtown, and it was easy to jet out from work at the end of the day and take in an evening game.

In their time, The Dukes were good. Really good. I was always troubled that they were a farm team for the Dodgers (no, I will not give The Bums any linklove from my blog!) but was able to look past that. I was even able to look past the fact that the odious Tommy Lasorda once managed my beloved team, but that was well before my time, so I could try to forget....

So The Dukes may be gone, replaced in 2003 with the Isotopes (yes, I proudly wear a 'Topes shirt around here, though have not yet had the pleasure of taking in an actual 'Topes game), but the San Jose Giants make a nice replacement in my heart.

And that link is still there, that tie, that very symbol, to me, of the blending of my Albuquerque roots and my Bay Area branches. That Dukes pennant with the smiling Duke of Albuquerque is still there on the wall for me to see, touch and remember every time I'm at the Muni. And that gives me esperanza.

Remember the old radio ads? "The Dukes are coming up...coming up swinging"?? It still rings in my head.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
All content of Oh Fair New Mexico by Karen Fayeth is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.