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June 30, 2008

What's in a name?

As spotted in the Albuquerque Journal...


"The state Court of Appeals has ruled against a Los Alamos man who wanted to change his name...to 'F--- Censorship!'"

Well all righty! Here, I'm freaking out trying to think of all the places I'll have to go to make sure my new married name is on record. Meanwhile, there are people who do this kind of thing every day!


"(The) law was clarified in a 2004 case in the same court that apparently involved the same petitioner. In that case, an Albuquerque man whose name was Snaphappy Fishsuit Mokiligon got the go-ahead from the appeals court to change his name to Variable."

And now Variable wants to be F--- Censorship! Um. How do you put that on checks? Do people call you Mr. Censorship? Is the exclamation point part of the name?

This sends the creative juices a'flowing in my mind. I mean, the possibilities are ENDLESS. If I'm already in there mucking around with my legal name, are there other things I'd like to append on there?

Sockittome G Fingledangerburginstein?

Or maybe go with the one name in the vein of Cher, Madonna and Iman.

How about...







Much to ponder.........

June 29, 2008


I'm still fuming a bit from something I encountered while in Albuquerque about a week ago.

Having been raised in New Mexico, I've always been a fan of beautifully crafted silver and turquoise jewelry.

I had the privilege of living near some of the finest Native American craftsmen who create works of art, and I've never taken that for granted.

Over the years, I've always been on my guard and tried to buy from reputable people where I know the jewelry was not only handmade by Native American people, but the gems were real and unique.

So while in Albuquerque near Old Town, I had occasion to visit one of my favorite stores where I know the pieces are always legitimate and beautiful. That place is called Casa de Avila and it's been a place where a lot of my paychecks have gone over the years.

The real stuff, the good stuff, isn't always the least expensive stuff.

So after buying a couple items there, we wandered out onto the plaza. I saw the row of people selling their wares on blankets laid out on the sidewalk and yes, it took me back a lot of years. Even as a kid I knew how to get in there, find something nice, and work with the artisan on a fair price.

Seeing this again, I was fired up to take a look.

For quite a while I've been looking for a particular necklace. A real turquoise graduated bead necklace, like this only longer and in blue turquoise.

That necklace, made by hand (meaning hand shaped round stones) with hand matched beads is VERY expensive, but really a masterpiece.

You can find some like it that are machine matched, shaped and strung, sure.

I'd like a handcrafted piece. Let me just say this....VERY expensive.

So as I strolled along the row of merchants there on the sidewalk, I spotted a really nice looking necklace. I looked at the gentleman who was selling the works, a Native American man, and thought "maybe this is the one".

I walked past his stand to look at what else was out there, told The Good Man "I may be about to spend a very lot of money" and went back to place where'd I'd spotted that necklace.

I kneeled down and picked up the piece that had caught my eye.

Immediately, I knew something wasn't right. For a long necklace made out of turquoise, it was really light. And it didn't have that sleek cool-to-the-touch feel in my hands.


I remember over the years a lot of articles and conversations about how to tell if turquoise is fake.

Something I read once said hold a lighter up to the piece. If it's plastic turquoise, obviously, it will melt.

Not having a lighter on me, I tried another trick. I took one of the beads in my fingers and pushed my thumbnail into it. On that warm Albuquerque day after sitting in the sun, it felt sort of...soft. My nail sunk in a bit, just the tiniest amount, but enough to tell me this was a genuine Native American-made piece crafted of incredibly fake stones.

I put the necklace down and walked away reeling. I told TGM what had happened and he gave the guy the benefit of the doubt, "Maybe he needs to sell a piece like that so he can buy real turquoise". Maybe. Yeah.

But the tag on it said "genuine turquoise". It's a lie.

I didn't actually price the item (it wasn't on the tag) and maybe should have. If he's selling it for $20, then fine. I have a feeling that's not the case.

I'm not naïve, yes, I know this kind of thing still goes on, and the caveat "buyer beware" is still very much in effect.

I was just mad at first...then later sad. I'd hate to think that someone visiting my fair New Mexico would get swindled. But yes, I know it happens and I can't save the world...

By the way...I support Southwest Indian Foundation. They work to help folks in trouble through sales and also via donations.

And they have a beautiful selection of genuine pieces at reasonable rates.

June 27, 2008

This whole marriage "thing"

So the point of last week's road trip was not only visiting with family, but also a fun engagement party, the subject of marriage has been the hot conversation topic.

Since becoming engaged, I've been talking to a lot of friends and family who have been married for a while to get their thoughts. Everyone has an idea on what it takes to "make it work".

Obviously, I'm very conscious about being a good partner, friend and spouse, so I've been listening.

Here's some of the thoughts I've gathered so far.

From Grandmother of The Good Man, her advice to me was to "have a room of your own in the house…because you'll want your alone time". I replied, "yes, that's seems true…" She leaned forward and fixed her eyes steadily on me. "No, I'm serious. You are going to want your own space!"

Point well taken, ma'am.

From my Aunt in Arizona, her advice was to work to keep things from being boring. Can't disagree with that one, seems easy to slip into. I have a couple friends who got married and slid right into the sweatpants and television mode. I suppose if it works for the couple, that's ok. But I think my Aunt has good advice.

From my own mom, she told TGM about the rather expensive toaster her own mom gave her for her wedding present. My dad, the ever tinkering electrical engineer, kept that thing toasting for the better part of forty years. Mom said that even when the toaster died, she kept it polished up and on a shelf. She said, "I figured that if we had that toaster, we had a marriage."

So maybe not the toaster itself, but a talisman, a symbol, a "something to hang on to" when the seas get rough is important.

I like it.

A friend at work who despite being about my age, has been married over twenty years (very YOUNG bride…wow!) says that for her, she laid down the law early on. For example, they have two beautiful children. She's made it clear that if they part ways, the kids are hers, no dispute.

This was along the same lines as the advice from the dad of my best friend…

He also said that both sides should set down the rules early on.

It all seems a bit rigid to me, but maybe it's not the "rules" so much as "these are the lines that cannot be crossed".

Mom of my best friend, upon hearing this advice about the rules said, "yes, that's true, I told him if he cheats on me I’m going to jail because I'm taking him out"

Wow. But hey, there's no gray area there, now is there?

I do think it's good to communicate "these are my non-starters" from the beginning. TGM and I have done some of that already…entering into this relationship later in life, we both had some previous experiences…so there were a couple "if you are going to xyz then I'm out" moments.

Other things heard are:

"Keep your own interests, don't make your spouse the only thing in your life"…ok, good.

"Communicate, communicate, communicate"…also good and one already well used. In fact, I know I’m guilty of sometimes OVER communicating…but I do have to say, if TGM and I find a disagreement, it's over pretty quick because we're good at talking and being honest about what's going on. (again, that "late in life" thing helps)

"Keep laughing." Ah yes.

All good things to ponder.

Anyone else got thoughts? If you don't want to put in comments, shoot me an email. I'm all ears.

June 26, 2008

How many of you who sit and judge me…

…have ever walked the streets of Bakersfield?

Sorry Mr. Owens. I don't judge you. Never did. But I'm here to pass a little judgment on your hometown.

On this last road trip through the Golden State, I had occasion to stop off in Bakersfield. As a matter of fact, we needed petrol, and Buck Owen's Blvd. off of Highway 99 seemed as good an exit as any to take.

At the bottom of the freeway ramp, there stood Buck Owen's Crystal Palace. And not much more. We weren't of a mind to visit the palace, tho it was interesting to see. But the gas/food/lodging situation in that area was sketchy to say the least.

It was all just…weird.

I'm a big fan of Buck Owens and think he's about the most talented musician I ever knew, along with a great self-deprecating sense of humor.

I can't help but think his old hometown hasn't quite done him the justice he deserves. The place to go to remember him is a weird neighborhood filled with strange businesses.

Who knows, I may be missing something…

Then again, it is California's Central Valley. A David Lynch movie waiting to happen...

June 25, 2008

Home again, home again...

...dancing a jig.

Had an easy and non-eventful drive from the greater Barstow metropolitan area to the Bay Area where we were greeted with an oppressive haze from the multitudinous fires burning. None near where we live, but all around. Ugh. The sky is terrible. It's cold. It's windy. It's not Oh Fair New Mexico.

And there's no green chile.

I'm unpacking, doing laundry and getting ready to go back to work tomorrow. Boo!

I asked The Good Man what he wanted for lunch today. "Green chile," he replied and we both sighed in sorrow.

"I didn't get enough mexican food while we were in New Mexico," he lamented. We had it every day....

What do they call someone who introduces another to their addiction? Cuz that's what I am. I made a Brooklyn boy a green chile addict. Heh!

Meanwhile, life goes on. The Feline is fine but a big clingy. She missed us in her own way.

Back to normal life, I suppose. I miss New Mexico more than ever.....

June 24, 2008

Greetings from the central valley

Taking a different route home than how we came, just to keep it
interesting. On Highway 99 through the central valley of California.

If I logically knew Cali was a major agriculture state, the central
valley is the proof. Miles and miles of lush farmland and every bit of
produce imaginable. Grapes, citrus, olives, nuts....all of it. A much
different look than crappy I-5.

California is an odd state. A mix of so many different things. Both in
the plus column and in the "wha??!?" column.

But it's home now.

Seen a lot of things on this trip that are new to me. And some
familiar and well missed sights.

Mostly ready to sleep in my own bed again.

June 23, 2008

So Long

Am bone weary today after a long day of driving.

After staying in Albuquerque Sunday, visiting Old Town, shopping, buying, eating, we slept under a swamp cooler and got up this morning, ate breakfast, and hit the road.

There was quite a bit of sadness when we hit the New Mexico/Arizona border and I had to leave Oh Fair New Mexico behind me.

It was a good visit. Too short but quality.

I think the drive on I-40 west is one of the most beautiful. The flat top red dirt hills look like slices of perfectly cooked prime rib. The skies so blue. Beautiful. Good to see it again.

Arizona, on the other hand.....

But that's been left behind as well. We've done three states today and are resting now in the greater Barstow, CA metropolitan area. ugh.

Tomorrow, we press for home.

What a wild ride. Photos and stories to come, I promise.

So long

Am bone weary today after a long day of driving.

After staying in Albuquerque Sunday, visiting Old Town, shopping, buying, eating, we slept under a swamp cooler and got up this morning, ate breakfast, and hit the road.

There was quite a bit of sadness when we hit the New Mexico/Arizona border and I had to leave Oh Fair New Mexico behind me.

It was a good visit. Too short but quality.

I think the drive on I-40 west is one of the most beautiful. The flat top red dirt hills look like slices of perfectly cooked prime rib. The skies so blue. Beautiful. Good to see it again.

Arizona, on the other hand.....

But that's been left behind as well. We've done three states today and are resting now in the greater Barstow, CA metropolitan area. ugh.

Tomorrow, we press for home.

What a wild ride. Photos and stories to come, I promise.

June 22, 2008

On the road again

Had a nice stay in Las Cruces. Visited Mesilla. Had some Sonic (yes!)
and enjoyed the whole point of this trip...an engagement party thrown
by my best friend.

The evening threatened rain, the wind blew like hell, and lightening
sliced at the sky.

Ultimately we got tiny sprinkles, lots of wind and a gosh darn dirty

Ended up being a gorgeous, fresh evening with good friends and friends-

And we had (all homemade) chile meat, tamales, taquitos, enchiladas,
ceviche (a new trial receipe and a big hit), raw Hatch chile with dip,
homemade ice cream and a lotta story telling.

We stayed up until 2:00 am visiting and I feel much happiness today.
Roots of my raising and all that.

Today we are on the road to ABQ, almost there in fact.

Am tired but pleasantly so.

The days are flying by so fast......

June 20, 2008

This one is dedicated...

...to my blogging friend, Internet buddy and fellow NM ex pat Avelino

Oh yes.


The table is set.

Sangria on the right for me.

Dos Eqius on the left for the good man.

Chips and salsa in the middle.

Order is placed.

Oh yes.....

Woo hoo!

Just crossed the border.

Bienvenidos a New Mexico!

I'm home!

Boy is it dusty........

*sniff sniff*

Smell it? I do.

I'm in Tucson.

Nuevo Mexico is but a hop, skip and a sniff away.

I am ready to leave Arizona and their 111 degree heat.

The expected 98 in Las Cruces sounds lovely.

Tonight I dine on green chile!


June 19, 2008

If I see....

...windmills...then I must be near Palm Springs.

Back on the road after an overnight in Orange County and a successful
visit to Grand Parentals of The Good Man.

We are eastbound on I-10 and headed for Phoenix. It is a good clear
day and it's starting to feel more like what I know.

Am a bit fragile today since Uncle of TGM opened many bottles of wine
and kept our glasses full until late last night.

I might bounce back after a Starbucks run..,

Curative powers of coffee.....

June 18, 2008

Grape-Viney Goodness

Ugh. The Grapevine. I hate it. The Good Man thinks it's cool.

One thing is clear:

When we drop down on the other side we'll be in L.A.


But L.A. is that much closer to where I belong....

We meet again...

Hello I-5, my old friend. Together again.

This is ugliest stretch of road I know. And I am from New Mexico. I
know from ugly roads.

Let me put it into perspective:

I'd rather drive that stick straight desolate highway between Vaughan/
Encino and Roswell a thousand times than I-5 just once.

Ah well...

Mother New Mexico, I'm coming home.

June 17, 2008

Mobile post

In preparation for road trippin'...setting up mobile blogging.

Look at me going wireless.


Woo hoo!

After months of obsessively turning over every quarter I get in change to see if I have a New Mexico quarter, I'm pleased to note that FINALLY one has made it's way into my hot little hands.

The Good Man actually received it and held it aside for me.

This just in time for me to visit Oh Fair New Mexico in the next couple days where I'll probably get them by the yard.

Oh well. It's still a happy thing!

Gotta find the bright shiny happy things in life, right?

June 16, 2008


Had a mindblower of a weekend.

In celebration of the birth of The Good Man, we had a (much necessary) weekend away.

Somewhere where cell phones don't work and television, p-feh…who needs 'em anyway?

We got a little wild. :)

We went to a place called Safari West. It's located north of the Bay Area, just outside of Santa Rosa.

It's an over 400-acre ranch that houses exotic animals of all kinds.

The owners have been working this place since the late 1980's and it's amazing.

I'm still processing it all…and the over 700 photos I took. (Yes, I said 700).

Highlights of the trip:

On the first night we were there, a baby Giraffe was born. It was a bit of a surprise to the Safari West folks. They knew mama Marla was pregnant, just didn't know she was ready to go.

Here's a photo of our as yet unnamed hero. This is about seven hours after his birth. Sssh, he's sleepin'.

Is a hard thing getting born. Especially for a baby giraffe who plummets some six feet to the ground with a whump then is up on his wobbly pins about an hour later.

Here he is a bit knock kneed but doin' it.

But that was not the only fascinating new thing…

That same night, Safari West took delivery of 38 flamingos and installed them in their new enclosure. I have always been a HUGE fan of flamingos. The Rio Grande Zoo used to have quite a few. Don't know if they still do. But as a kid, they made a big impact on me.

These are "greater" Flamingos (their "lesser" and more colorful cousins will be arriving soon).

From there, it's hard to pin down all the amazing things!


Cape Buffalo (that's some scary sh-- right there….)


And on and on and on. That's not even scratching the surface.

OH! And Zebra. I adore Zebra.

And Watusi cattle!

And! And! And!

It was amazing. A photographer's dream (though tough too. Animals don't, you know, pose).

We also slept in genuine tent cabins constructed by South African craftsmen and modeled on safari tents, including wood floors and open space. They were actually really nice and quite comfortable, though a bit cold at night.

In the dark we could hear all the animals of the safari calling and howling and, you know, doing what wild animals do.

I can't even begin to write out how utterly geeked out I still am from the weekend…

We'll be talking about this for weeks.

June 12, 2008


Aw, who is that cute girl caught in the headlights?

That would be, you know, me.

Under 60 days out from "the big event" and my cool, calm demeanor has cracked.

Silly me to think that people to whom you pay an exorbitant amount of money would, you know, just DO their jobs.

I thought it was ridiculous when The Good Man told me early on we needed to manage these people. Nah, silly me thought. People will behave like professionals until they prove themselves otherwise.

Ah the proofs. So painfully coming in otherwise.

I think I understand how some people become Bridezillas.

I don't want to be a Bridezilla. I want to be a Bridecoolgirl. Or Brideprettyprincess.

My work life is pretty negotiation intensive. I spend 40+ hours a week telling suppliers how much they've screwed up and to get their collective sh-- together.

I try, oh do I try, not to do this in my personal life. Separation of church and state and all that.

Ooooh but no, they are making me get out my Incredible Procurement Hulk ninja skills.

Believe me…you wouldn't like me when I'm angry.

This is supposed to be a party. When does it get fun?

And if I hear ONE more person tell me, "Oh don't worry! That day will be all about YOU!".....

June 10, 2008

My personal National Holiday

June 10th, a glorious day to be celebrated.

The Good Man was born on this day.

Feliz Cumpleaños my beautiful Gemini love.

I can hardly wait to celebrate today (and every day) with you.

Special thanks to the parents of The Good Man for creating such a genuinely good man.

I'm a very lucky girl….

June 9, 2008

Use your words.

Something is wrong with the fuzzy one.

No, not The Good Man. The one that's more fuzzy.

The Feline.

Something's amiss and we can't seem to figure out what, exactly it is.

It's not from lack of The Feline *trying* to communicate. Oh no, she's communicatin'

A lot.

Our normally fairly quiet cat is now taken to meowing. Insistently. Incessantly. Bowl is empty, the hailstorm of meows is ceaseless. Fill the bowl, the meows stop for a while, replaced by crunch, crunch sounds. Then, when sated, the meows begin again.

They don't sound like pain meows. Her ears aren't hot and she's not acting sickly.

Just the opposite, actually. She seems in fine health. She's dropped a couple pounds and her nose has healed up nicely. She seems in great spirits.

So what's with all the meowing?

I have heard about these devices made in Japan that will "interpret" your cat's vocalizations.

I can't help but think if we got one, the translations would be something like, "You people are boring. Get off the couch and hunt something! And what's with this food? Could I *get* some of that stuff out of that can with the picture of the mermaid on the side? And while we're at it, I need bottled water in this bowl. And this collar makes me look fat!"

Maybe sometimes it's better not to reach out and paw someone…

June 6, 2008

Come to me…

Sweet precious weekend.

Glorious, tasty two days of freedom from the shackles that bind.

I need it.

Crave it.

And yet…here I am at work. I have more meetings yet to go today. Many more. One of them will be rather ugly.

So I'm still on an uphill trudge.

But other than the weekend, I have something to keep working toward. See, last night I had a conversation with my best good friend. If you can believe it (I can't) we celebrate twenty years of friendship this year. Mind boggling.

She makes her residence in Las Cruces and graciously offered to throw a backyard "together" for The Good Man and me and a variety of our friends. It will be a chance to catch up with my New Mexico familia and I couldn't be MORE excited to be there.

I mean, it's not just seeing old friends, hugging my beautiful godkids, breathing clear desert air, seeing mountains in the distance, resting, not working, but also one big reason……

I'm running about a quart low on green chile.

June 5, 2008

The Topic Fairy Has Left the Building.

The Muse is ignoring me today.

The stark white blank Word page stares at me…mocking.

I usually am chock full of ideas.

Today, the brain, she no wanna create.

Since I normally comment on my life (hell, I made an entire post about breaking my jump drive) you'd think there would be plenty to discuss.

It's all just kind of *meh* today.

Oh well. Check this space.

I’m gonna go hunt the Topic Fairy and drag her back by her wings.

June 4, 2008

Utter distruction.

I have this fabulous little SmartDisk drive that I adore.

It has this great form factor that rocks. It's one inch by one inch square with a little flip out arm for the USB connector.

It is twelve nice-and-roomy GB's. I admit when I bought it, I thought 12GB was an odd size, but whatever.

Been carrying this around in my backpack for about a year now. It has all of my blog post drafts, lots of photos, a couple videos, much of my writing and various other things. I just dig this little guy.

It's what I use at work so no personal stuff ends up on the work machine. All safely put away on a jump drive. And I can take work files home on it and not have to carry my entire laptop.

About a month ago, my Little Drive turned up missing. I was distraught. I had gone sailing out of the office late for the shuttle bus and was just sure it had fallen out of my handbag as I ran.

I was heartsick. I had made that major IT error. I had failed to back it up. It had several original files on there, including the beginnings of a new novel. I was 6,000 words into it, and sure, I could recreate, but who wants to!?

Highly depressed, I went back to the online store where Little Drive was procured only to discover they no longer make the 12GB version. The best I could do was an 8GB, so I bought one.

I was too depressed to even fire up this new drive. Unsure what to do, I soldiered on. Until I got a call from security at work . Seems they found Little Drive on the shuttle bus. I almost wept with joy. I ran over the security department and retrieved my creative soul. I immediately brought it back to my desk and backed it up to my Big Daddy firewire drive.


So, reunited, we began again, writing together, saving interesting tidbits. A letter to the editor. A draft of an entry to a local poetry contest. Yes! We were happy again, side by side.

Then there was yesterday…

For the past several days I'd had that odd back of my mind feeling that I needed to backup Little Drive. Paranoia, I think, after being parted. But when I got to work, I got out Big Daddy drive and backed Little Drive up.

Then I plugged Little Drive in and started working on some stuff.

Later, I had to attend a "lunch and learn" meeting that I'd rather have poked my eyes out than sit through…

So I decided to take my MacBook and "appear" to be working while really working on my own stuff. I had Little Drive attached to the MacBook. In a rush to get to the meeting, I hurriedly picked up my MacBook and whacked Little Drive on the underside of the shelf right above the laptop stand.

Broke the USB connector, yes I did. Well, it was connected…but hanging there by its blue and red and green and yellow wires…

I was able to gingerly plug it back in and it mounted. Yes! I pulled off the files I'd worked on that day (that didn't make the morning backup) then I ejected the drive.

I peered into the little arm and thought "well, it's connected, I'll just push this back in and it will work fine."

I'll spare the suspense. I did and it didn't. Meaning I fixed it but it no longer worked.

So I yanked the USB connecter back out. My "fix" had snapped off all the wires.


I pried open the cracked plastic a bit and took a look. It didn't look good. But I thought maybe I could take it home and fiddle with it. Ok, to be fair, since I'd backed it up, there was no need to resuscitate this drive…I'm just…emotionally attached to it.

Owing to being "raised by engineers" (an honor bestowed on me by the engineering team of which I was a part of…as their financial analyst…right out of college) I figured I could figure this out.

I mean, my dad could make a toaster last for thirty years, I could fix a damn USB connector!

The Good Man suggested that even if I fixed it, odds of "data loss" were high with my kludgy fix.

Well, he needn't have worried.

In one of those bits made for sitcoms, the more I tried to fix it, the more I broke it. I kept trying to pull the wires out a bit more. Trying to take the shielding off so I could get more space. All I did was fray the wires to unrecognizablility.

Then I thought maybe I could pop out the 12 GB drive and put it in the 8GB case! The one with the working USB connector!

After busting it wide open, I discovered that, yeah, those wires were attached to the drive in such a way as to not be easily removed.

Basically, I pulled a big ol' Bull in a China shop on this poor little drive. It's now in many, many pieces on my desk at home.

*sigh* Gonna miss you, old friend…

So the new 8GB has gotten the call to the bullpen. You're up, fella. Let's see what you got.

Sweet Jebus!

Heather Wilson lost.

: sigh of relief :

June 3, 2008


I don't have it.

Despite it's virtuous qualities.

Was talking with a friend at work today (she's my lunch buddy). We were lamenting a current frustrating situation involving both of us.

She said, "I know the universe must be testing my patience, this just has to be a lesson."

I said, "Well, I must be having to learn this lesson just by being in proximity to you. I'm *sure* I'm good on the patience."

To which we both burst out laughing.

I have to wonder how I got so damn impatient with the world.

Then I remember my hop-from-foot-to-foot-like-a-flea father and wonder how I ever could have ended up a patient person. He was a good man, but patience wasn't his virtue either.

Ah well. I yam what I yam.

June 2, 2008

An ode to the Conductor

On this sleepy Monday morning, I made my usual walk to the CalTrain station, The Good Man at my side.

As we strolled on the platform, the northbound train rolled by. TGM commented how some trains seem to be quieter than others. We pondered why that would be.

Then I observed that sometimes on the train it is a smooth ride and sometimes it gets this side-to-side sway that is not only nausea inducing, makes it impossible to read.

I wondered why that happens sometimes, but not always. Is it the track they use? Or do they take a corner too fast? Or what?

Without any good answers, I boarded the train.

Stalking up and down the aisles, I discovered there was no seat to be found. "Hmph. Busy day," I mused to myself, then took up a standing position in the vestibule near the front of one of the cars (where the doors are).

There I stood with several of my fellow riders when the Conductor came along, checking tickets. I see this guy most mornings. He's a hard case guy. I would guess he's been on the train a lot of years and is nearing retirement. I can say this, he's not willing to take any guff off of anyone.

Clearly, the overindulged Bay Area youth with their Blackberries, iPods and laptops impress him not at all. A meat and potatoes guy, he's short and thick fingered with a boiler belly and his conductor's cap worn firmly on his graying head.

So I stand there, riding the train, sleepily looking out on the passing world when the train picks up speed. Boy did the car start a rockin' back and forth. And squeaking. A metal on metal sound.

I looked over at the conductor, he's got a wide stance, both black-booted feet planted firmly on the ground, no need to hang on for this man. Me, I'm wrapped around the steel pole like a recalcitrant stripper, barely able to keep my balance.

The Conductor casually lifts his walkie-talkie to his mouth and says, "Can you bring this thing down about 10 miles? Car 4002 has side sway."

The Engineer replies, "You got it" and noticeably the train slows. The rocking stops.

"Thanks," I said to the Conductor, "That's a much nicer ride."

"Yeah, this car has real bad side sway," he gruffs out in reply.

I nod, "thanks" I say again, then most of the people around me also give a "thanks".

The Conductor continues, "This is only a four car train today, it's going to be that way for a while."

I nod, understanding now why I couldn't find a seat.

"They took all the handicapped cars out, doing some retrofit I think. So since all those cars are out, any of the other cars, whether they need repair or not are back in service. This one needs to be fixed, but that won't happen for a while," he says, chuckling and shaking his head in a world weary way.

I nod understandingly, and give him that "what are you gonna do" shrug.

"It's been a tough day, twice we've had doors get stuck," he continues.

"Won't open or won't close?" I question.

"Oh, they open fine, but they get stuck back in the mechanism and we can't get them shut." He shakes his head again. I nod again.

"And the handicapped cars, those are where we store the lavatory supplies. We have one bathroom on the train and there's no toilet paper. We have to use paper towels. But you can't flush paper towels so we have to put a yellow (hazardous) bag in there. And the sink don't work. People are washing their hands with bottled water."

I make a mental note to myself to make sure I use the loo before boarding the train this afternoon…

And I think, "wow, his day kind of sucks."

"Ah well, it's only downhill from there," he says and shrugs, then picks up the PA mike and announces our pending arrival to Palo Alto.

He nimbly jogs down the steps off the train and onto the platform where an whiny kid approaches him saying, "The validator machine doesn't work!"

The Conductor sarcastically replies, "What, OUR machines? I can't imagine…"

He signs the ticket for the kid, makes his routine inspection at the stop, climbs back on and gets back to business.

All in a days work.

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.