Have you ever known a place that, in your memories, takes on a dream quality?
It can be almost any place. I have lots of them.
But one that shows up in my dreams quite often is this really greasy spoon in Las Cruces. A college hangout. Oh did I have some fun times there, and the tasty green chile cheese burgers that still haunt me.
That place is called Dick's Cafe.
It's a place with plastic windows covered with a greasy film. It has torn vinyl seats and ugly formica tables. The desert sun pours in through those windows, lighting up the room and the grimy linoleum floor.
And there is a jukebox. Oh that jukebox. I used to ask cute cowboys for their pocket change and they would give it to me. My best friend and I would play our faves. And we smiled, and laughed, and told stories and picked on each other and occasionally picked up on each other. It is genuinely the stuff of my dreams. All the individual memories blended together into one beautiful and happy amalgam.
When visiting Las Cruces, my pulse still quickens driving past Dick's. Back in the day, we would drive by real slow and survey the pickups parked out front. My best friend and I had a game, how many could we recognize. She was always better than me at that, but if we saw a good one, one belonging to a good friend or a particularly cute boy that needed to be flirted with, we'd turn in to the dirt parking lot and grab a coke and some fries. The days went by slow and easy then.
What's great is that Dick's has been around since 1959. My best friend's parents, my surrogate Mom and Dad, have just as fond memories about Dick's as we do. THAT is an institution, people!
Why am I waxing rhapsodic about Dick's today?
Because I just read in the Las Cruces Sun News that they had a fire overnight. Article here.
If the physical place is gone, it can live on in my memories. But it would be a sad day for me to have to say goodbye to the actual place.
Just writing this, remembering the days, makes me smile. Fridays at Dick's were especially fun.
An urgent email went out to my best friend who still lives in Las Cruces for some on the scene reporting…
February 29, 2008
Have you ever known a place that, in your memories, takes on a dream quality?
You know just the other day while riding the CalTrain, I saw a nice, handsome man giving me "the look". You know the look. The "I'm checking you out" look. I sat up a little straighter. Blushed appreciatively. Until I realized he was checking out the twenty-something year old blond sitting next to me.
And I thought, "What's she got that I ain't got?" Well. Perkier boobs for one, because mine were already in high school before blondie was born.
Oy. And so I gave myself the usual litany of "you are only as old as you feel" and "youth is wasted on the young" and "age is a state of mind".
It's true, I don't actually *feel* any older than the child with the supple, elastic skin seated next to me. In fact, at this age, I feel SO much better about myself. Stronger. More self-aware. About eight million times more confident.
So feeling better about myself I bounced from the train and into my day, deciding that pimply boy wasn't all that interesting anyway. I'm young. I'm hip. I have an iPhone.
I just got my hair colored again, covering the grays and putting an even deeper tone of red in there. I have a job and an engagement ring. I'm happenin', man.
Then I read the entertainment section of my local paper and stumbled across this article and felt all the gray hairs sproing up on my head.
Prince is having hip replacement surgery.
That little red Corvette will need to be an automatic cuz my boy can't work the clutch anymore. Darling Nikki uses Oil of Olay. Purple rain the color of a Prilosec tab.
It happens to the best of us, I suppose.
This on the heels of hearing that the timeless and ageless Omar Vizquel needs knee surgery.
Time, that unforgiving b*tch, marches on.
February 28, 2008
I am quite thoughtful today. It is an anniversary of sorts, but not the happy kind.
It was three years ago today that my dad passed away in Albuquerque. In some ways it was like yesterday, how fresh the hurt is. But in other ways it seems like a million years ago.
It wasn't a surprise when he died. It was expected. He'd been sick and we knew it was inevitable. It was, actually, in many ways a relief when it did finally occur.
Losing a parent is, in my opinion, among the hardest things an adult must deal with.
I didn’t have much of a relationship with my dad, but he was my dad, after all. He was cranky, cantankerous, Type A, driven, rigid, incredibly intelligent, hardworking, a loyal friend to his friends, never lazy, handy, proud, insecure, funny, a thinker, and unstoppable.
In other words, an imperfect human.
For me, the things that needed to be said were said before he moved on. I don't have any open issues there, and I count myself lucky in that regard.
So today, I feel a bit of sadness, a bit of thoughtfulness, and the drive to keep moving ever forward.
February 27, 2008
About a year ago I put in for a new job at work. It would be a promotion. I'd be the boss of myself, which would be fun, but difficult at staff meetings…what with me ordering myself around like a minion and everything.
Yesterday after a long year of *waiting*, I heard from my boss that they "decided to go another way". Which means, they hired an external candidate.
I was assured "it's not you, it's me" and "we can still be friends" and "I just need to see other employees" and other tried and true breakup lines.
I like my current boss, so it's a bit sad, but really, I’m ok about it.
I think, maybe, Boss Lady might have done me a favor. The expectations around that job role are a little weird. It's been vacant for like a year and a half. No one really knows what that job is supposed to do anymore. I even asked my Vice-President when he interviewed me what were his expectations. He had no answer. That concerns me. It's nigh impossible to do a job when you have NO idea what is expected of you.
In addition, one of my employees worked with this incoming person at another company and didn't have high marks.
Oh well, I've suffered fools in this department before.
Like I said…maybe in the end, this is actually for the best.
February 25, 2008
I'm way too late to this party, but that's ok. Here's the old news:
The venerable Albuquerque Tribune published its last edition on Saturday, February 23.
Albuquerque's afternoon paper had been around 86 years. Quite a run, actually.
I always liked the Trib, their comics were way better, at least back in the day. Plus, when I was home after school, but before my folks got home, I could dash out, read the comics, fold it back up right and all was good. I always got the morning Journal after it has been thoroughly read and smudged by both parents and siblings. Kind of a weird memory, I admit.
I found the writing style and layout of the Trib more accessible then the ABQJournal. I admit it was often the "light" news source, but it was my preference.
We may see it again in a different incarnation, but for now, it's a story that goes quiet.
Goodbye, old friend. Sad to see you go the way of many other dailies that couldn't make it work in this Internet era.
February 23, 2008
You know what I did today?
I met a Rock Star. Ok, not a real rock star, but my own personal rock star.
For me, celebrity is an interesting thing. I don't really think that much about most Hollywood actors. Having once upon a time dated a musician, the magic is out of that one too.
The one thing I love to do more than anything else is writing, so for me, the real rock stars are writers.
About fifteen years ago (*gasp*, has it been that long?), my best friend gave me a book. A book about writing. About how to get started. About just getting the words down on paper.
It began a journey for me that I'm still on. It was a liberating kick in the pants.
And what was the best, my most favorite thing about that book was that the woman who wrote these powerful words was from New Mexico.
That fact left an indelible mark on my soul.
That book was "Writing Down the Bones" and that author is Natalie Goldberg.
Today she made an appearance at a really cool local bookstore, Kepler's.
After her talk, which was great, she signed books. She could not have been more gracious. I got a chance to tell her how great it was for this little girl from New Mexico to have a New Mexican show me the way, and she said she understood that.
And I walked away on clouds 8, 9 and 10.
It was really, really cool.
The geek out factor was akin to when I get the autograph of a favorite baseball player.
Writers and baseball players. My own personal Rock Stars.
February 22, 2008
It's a lovely thing. It's a way to bind people together (and not in that "I can't breathe kind of way"), a way to identify each other, a way to mark time.
In my life there are plenty. Cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning. Posole at New Year's. Ham at Easter.
Noticing a theme here? My traditions do tend to revolve around food.
When I was living in Albuquerque and working at Sandia Labs, the Friday tradition was happy hour at Gardunos over by Winrock Mall.
Delicious margaritas, happy hour tasties, and Mariachi as a way to end the week. That can't be bad.
Today I'm enjoying a Bay Area tradition. Observed by most restaurants in the area and also by the cafeteria where I work.
: slurp slurp :
Oh yeah, baby. I know it's Friday when there is a steaming pot of chow-dah at the Cafeteria. As far as I know, it's homemade on site. This week's batch isn't as tasty as last week, but that's ok. It's still all kinds of yum on a cold rainy day.
The engineers will line up in droves, often the only time all week they toddle out of their black hole labs to see the light of day. I get in line with my unwashed brothas to savor the aroma.
Lop off a slice of sourdough, and that's a little bit of heaven right there on a plastic tray.
So, ya'll entertain yourselves, I'm enjoying a tradition over heah.
Happy Friday to all.
February 21, 2008
Been reading Dilbert for a lot of years in the paper and recently on the website. It's an every morning "must hit".
This week it's been interesting because it looks like Wally is about to be fired.
I found that an odd story twist.
Then while browsing the headlines, I saw this story.
Yikers, fired for posting a Dilbert comic? Geez!
Well, to be fair, given that layoffs were imminent at the guy's employer, people were probably extra *sensitive*.
But then in his dilbert.blog from back in December, Scott Adams says, "Over the years, a number of people have approached me in public, or e-mailed me, to say they also got fired for posting Dilbert comics on walls. I don’t know how many of those stories, if any, are true."
Erm. Being a fan of Dilbert, I've been known to post a few.
This caused me to vault from my chair and look at my office window.
What's that, bottom center? A Dilbert comic!
I didn't even remember which one I posted, but I scanned it hurriedly to see if my understanding Boss Lady would be offended.
Which strip is it, you ask?
Phew. See? I'm not insulting my boss, I'm insulting my suppliers!
That kind of insulting might just get me promoted if I don't watch out!!
February 20, 2008
Ya'll know what that is?
Well, in my laywoman's terms, it's that low cloudy layer that creeps in over the Bay Area, not quite fog, not quite clouds. It's misty, and damp and prevalent.
According to the Wikipedia entry, it's "an air mass which develops over the surface of a large body of water such as the ocean or large lake in the presence of a temperature inversion."
Fine. I'll tell you this. It's a regular visitor to the Bay Area.
It ruins Fourth of July. All you see are fireworks bursting behind clouds. Sort of a downer.
It interferes with summer baseball. You can actually see a high-flying ball hit the "inversion layer" and drop like a dying quail. Outfielders visiting my SF Giants are often flummoxed by this phenomenon.
It also makes it a bit warmer here, tho. Holding in the heat.
But you wanna know what the marine layer is doing tonight?
It's blocking my freaking view of the lunar eclipse!!
It's supposed to be spectacular. I guess it is. Not that I can tell.
: cranky :
February 19, 2008
Ah poor, poor tragically beautiful and misguided Jessica Alba. She's gone and got herself on the fighting side of my fair New Mexico. Or more specifically, the Duke City.
As reported by Jim Belshaw last week in his ABQJournal opinion piece.
From the article:
"Ms. Alba said: 'In Albuquerque there's really only one restaurant that's pretty good. You can only take Applebee's and Chili's so much. Our big day was hanging out at Wal-Mart for five hours. It was like, 'Yea, Wal-Mart!' '''
Ok, fair enough. I embrace the state of my state's own rasquacheness, however, I found it an odd comment about Albuquerque. I mean, there's more than THAT to do.
Well, to parrot Paul Harvey, now for the rest of the story…
Seems this young lady was a guest of the New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired in preparation for her latest movie release, "The Eye". This was her time in New Mexico to which she was referring.
See, the funny thing is, NMSBVI is located in Alamogordo, not Albuquerque.
Now, I could get my Land of Enchantment up, all in a dander on behalf of BOTH Albuquerque and Alamogordo.
But why? Over the weekend, I talked a lot with my friend about how New Mexico is growing way too fast. Lots of those dang Californians (like me) selling their overvalued houses and buying up less expensive land. And bringing our bad attitude with us.
I figure Ms. Alba did us a favor, right? It's good PR. Yeah, folks, the state's largest City has only one, like, good restaurant. And only Wal-Mart for entertainment. That's right! Who would want to live in a place like *that*, eh? Move along folks, I hear Idaho is fabulous this time of year.
Thanks Jessica! You just keep on being our PR agent. kay?
The fine people of New Mexico.
Oh, and here's some love from Google maps! Enjoy!
February 18, 2008
*sigh* Monday. It's Monday again. Why God why?!?!?
I guess cuz it has to be.
Granted, I had today off. Not because of the holiday. My company doesn't give us that one off. Nah. I took a few days vacation.
I was honored, over the weekend, to have a visit from my best friend. She lives in Las Cruces and made quite a long trip to get here. Should have gone easy, but due to inclement weather somewhere or other, she languished in the unfathomably ugly Phoenix airport, cutting short our visit time by several hours.
We hadn't had the chance to be together in person for quite a while. October, I think, was the last gathering in New Mexico. She hadn't been this way for years.
The occasion of her visit was to begin her duties as my Matron of Honor (what a terrible thing to call a nice married lady..."matron", feh!).
Those duties included 1) calming my ass down, 2) helping me look at wedding magazines without crying in anxiety and 3) going with me to choose a wedding dress.
It is that last one, the wedding dress one, where she earned her combat pay.
Despite having been in several weddings, I've never had the, uh,
agony, pleasure, of going with a friend through the whole dress buying process.
Through the recommendation of a work friend, I found a place in San Francisco (right off Union Square) that you can choose from their "menu" and they make you a custom fit dress. The friend that made the recommend doesn't have a model perfect bod, and I saw her wedding photos. She looked *stunning*. I figured these were the people to work some magic.
Let's review. 1) wedding dress shopping, 2) in San Francisco, 3) off Union Square, 4) getting measured.
I. Was. Terrified.
The good news is, as of this year, my friend has been my best friend for, count 'em, twenty years. Yup, met back in 1988. Oh the lives we've lived since then.
So I felt comfortable in the presence of The Good Man and The Best Friend to say, "I'm scared."
And bless them both, they talked me down, fed me breakfast, told me I'd be great and brought me to the fifth story, blonde-wood floored dress shop feeling strong and confident and loved.
As an aside, let me tell you this bit of Too Much Information. At the shop, they hand you a strapless bra, some really awful gold lamé shoes, tell you to strip down and we'll be right back with dresses for you to try on.
I wore a pair of steel belted control top hose to try to better my chances. So there I stood, shivering in a billowy curtained dressing room wearing black hose, a strapless bra and gold shoes. The urge to wheeze, "anyone want a cocktail" like a Reno waitress was too much to bear.
I stood there, horribly nervous and horribly uncomfortable and I looked over at my friend. She gave me an "it's going to be ok look" and all I could do was bust out laughing.
The laughing stopped when they slipped the first dress over my head. Who knew I had a waist? Who knew I could actually pull off a strapless?
My friend was brutally honest with me on each dress we tried on and after an hour and a half, I think we've settled on a good one.
After that, the rest of the weekend was easy. We did sightseeing and had good eats. I got the rare chance to spend several days with my two most favorite people in the world. And was so gratified to see how well they got along with each other, as well.
I choked back a lot of tears this morning dropping her off at the airport. She has to get home to my two gorgeous goddaughters and her husband as well. I'll see her again soon, but tonight my heart aches.
I miss my best friend, each day, very much.
Together she and I have learned a lot of lessons.
The most recent, from the dress shop employee.
The key to femininity is:
Spanx and a sash.
And she's not lying, that sh*t can work wonders!
Most people in this world, if asked to make a party list, can fill a page with a list of friends. I cannot. I have very few friends, but the friends I do have mean everything to me. They are more than friends, they are family.
For that, I am grateful.
Add to that, my friend carted a bag of Hatch grown green chile out here and whipped up a batch of rellenos Sunday night that would make you cry (and I think The Good Man and I did weep, just a little, in gratitude). THAT is love.
Photo below to make you drool.
February 15, 2008
It's now firmly a part of our lexicon. Thank you Roger freaking Clemens.
I listened to bits and pieces of his testimony before Congress Wednesday regarding his use of illegal and banned substances and was shocked and appalled by the behavior on both sides of the conversation.
The day was all about tossing people under the bus.
Chuck Knoblauch, a bit player at best, tossed Clemens under.
Andy Pettitte, Clemens supposed best friend, whoosh, tossed Clemens under the bus.
And then Clemens went ahead and tossed his wife right on under.
And in the finest hour, Clemens said that Pettitte, his best friend, must have "misremembered" when he told investigators that Clemens had used performance enhancing substances.
And the Congressmen were no better firing off supposition and innuendo. What we have here is a modern day McCarthy trial. These Congressmen are so keen to go after the superstars that they'll listen to any sub-Mendoza Line player who got name checked in the Mitchell Report who wants to squeal out names in order to distance themselves from the circus.
It was bad what they did to Bonds. It's bad what they are doing to Clemens. It's bad for baseball.
And in the end, baseball will prevail. Because it will.
"The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh... people will come Ray. People will most definitely come."
--Terence Mann, Field of Dreams.
Glad I watched this movie again last week. Because I need to believe again in the magic of the game I love.
Am I a baseball purist that expects each player to be pristine and au natural? No. But do I condone steroids? No.
I just want to put this awful witch hunt behind us and move on.
Did anyone even notice that Giants pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training, uh, Wednesday?
I choose to think about that. And pray to whichever entity you choose that I can "misremember" the events of this week.
Now. Gentlemen, play ball.
Photo by Karen Fayeth
February 14, 2008
I wrote up a blog post last night about the Congressional investigation of Roger Clemens and yesterday's hearings. It's a good post, and will see the light of day tomorrow, I think.
I'm delaying that one mainly because I took stock of today's date. And realized my baseball vitriol can last another day.
Today is about love, baby.
So my words will be those of love and gratitude for a very special person.
Someone who has been there from day one, and will be there when I take my last breath. Unfailingly.
Over the years, we've had a rocky relationship.
Look, let me just be blunt. I've abused this person. Treated her bad. Called her names. Ignored her complaints about pain, hunger or hurt feelings. Pushed her too hard, even when I knew she was insecure. I've made her mad. Made her cry. Made her eat cabbage soup or Slim Fast instead of real food. Or starved her. Or made her overeat the point of exhaustion. Didn't believe in her. Told her she wasn't talented. Told her she was dumb. Unlovable. Unworthy. Useless.
We've had good times too. Trips to fascinating places. She always shows the wild-eyed wonder of a child when visiting somewhere new.
She's got a great sense of humor. She has a heart built for loving and being loved. She is an artist; sensitive, kind, with emotions that run deep. She looks at the world with a different set of eyes than most, and oddly, can manage to find something good about even seemingly unkind people. She has a knack for finding the human in the heart of even the fiercest person (including the CEO of her own company, one time, in a strange interaction in the cafeteria).
She's also one hell of a businesswoman when she turns it on. She used to love to turn that part of her on, but lately, it doesn't matter all that much anymore. Negotiating deals doesn't provide that natural high. All that arguing is just tiresome.
And she's struggling with that realization.
She is respected for the work she does for her employer, even though she never gives herself any credit for it. She'll compliment her employees but forget to thank herself.
She's always been smart, but as the years go by, she's becoming more intuitive. Smarts only take you so far. Wits get you across the finish line.
Someday, she may even learn to love herself, at least a little bit.
And the love of a good man has helped her see herself with a new set of eyes. Seeing herself through his eyes, she knows she is lovable, and worthy, and talented, and more.
That same good man makes her want to continue to work really hard to be the best person she can possibly be, because he deserves nothing less.
I admire her tenacity. I just wish she wouldn't worry so much.
And so today, with as much love as I have, I give the candy hearts and paper flowers to the one who will always be there through thick and thin.
It's time to treat myself nice. So be it, and so it is.
You have no idea how much hard mental work it's taken me to get to a place where I could even write this, much less share it publicly.
And so with that, I say Happy Valentine's Day to all.
May you love yourself as much as you love the people in your life.
February 13, 2008
There's one for you, nineteen for me
Cos I'm the taxman, yeah, I'm the taxman"**
Ah yes, it's that time of year again.
Paid a visit to Mr. Tax Man today. A good man. Conservative. Just what I want in a tax preparer.
I sold a couple shares of stock this year. So Uncle Sam will come whistlin' through my paycheck before April. Ouch.
I asked Mr. Tax Man if he thought the planned rebates would help stimulate the sagging economy. He said he didn't see how since the last one didn't either.
Oh well. All my employees are madly scouring their W2's to see if they get the rebate. One will miss it by $800. An f-bomb was issued in response. No rebate will be coming my way. *sigh*
So it goes. I remember taxes always made my Dad incredibly tense back in the day. I'm rather happy to give money to a professional to worry about such things. I give him my ragtag pile of documents and he makes magic.
It's all good.
"If you drive a car, I'll tax the street
If you try to sit, I'll tax your seat
If you get too cold, I'll tax the heat
If you take a walk, I'll tax your feet"
**with thanks and acknowledgement to The Beatles for writin' it and Stevie Ray Vaughan for making it move.
February 12, 2008
I used to be that. I was the one that didn't get into trouble. And when I did get into trouble, it *pained* me. I worked long and hard my whole life to "go along to get along".
But not always. And not as much lately.
Been doing a lot of "head work". You know the kind where you go sit on a couch and talk about your feelings? It's hard work, but as I work at it, I find, I don't always like sitting there being a good girl anymore.
And that's ok. What's not ok is the guilt I still have about it.
Tonight I went to the book club at my local library. For this month, we read "Three Cups of Tea" by Greg Mortenson and David Relin.
The book, roughly, is about a guy who tried to scale K2 in Pakistan, but didn't make it to the summit. While wandering around, hungry, disoriented and lost, he finds himself in the tiny village of Korphe, where the villagers care for him. While there he sees the sad state of schools in the village, children study outside and share a teacher with another village, and vows to build them a school. This sets off a long journey around building a series of schools in a fairly hostile country.
It's a wonderful story. But in my opinion, the writing in the book is truly awful. And this is a book club, right?
So the discussion group I attend, it's mostly elderly folks. They are really wonderful and I enjoy them. But I get tired of the need for everyone to agree. Every time the book club starts, the librarian asks, "how did everyone like the book." Everyone always likes the book. Everyone but one. Me.
I have become, in the bounds of this book club, the proverbial turd in the punchbowl.
And the cheese stands alone.
I don’t *try* to be disagreeable. I just like a lively discussion. But I think these fine folks think I'm a rabble-rouser.
Which, if you know me, is pretty funny. I'm feisty, sure, but there is that whole ingrained "go along to get along" thing.
Maybe this therapy thing is working? Because tonight I'm ALL fired up. I do feel a little guilty for not being the good girl, but I’m working through it. I am not sure the people enjoyed my point of view, but I thought I made some darn good points.
We don't *always* have to agree in order to get along. Right?
Or is that just me...............
February 8, 2008
This just in: The longer couples are together, the more they irritate each other!
Reeeeeally? Wow, I'd *never* have guessed!
How is this news? And yet it is.
And you know what else researchers found?
That this phenomenon is *normal*
Whoooooooa! There's some groundbreaking research there, folks!
When I mentioned this article to The Good Man last night he replied, "Anyone who is surprised by this did not grow up in a home with two adults in a long term relationship".
He's very wise, that Good Man of mine.
Hell, I get irritated with myself if I spend too much time with me. It only stands to reason.
But then again, I know I'm *perfect* to live with and surely will never irritate The Good Man.
Happy Friday, ya'll. May you and your respective partners have only mild irritation this weekend!
February 7, 2008
(settle in, it's a long post today)
Yesterday afternoon, late afternoon, I got a voice message from Stanford Blood Center.
They call me quite a bit. Being an O positive means the stuff in my veins is in demand.
Lately instead of whole blood, I've been giving platelets. It takes longer to donate but is MUCH easier on me. They take the blood, spin off the platelets, and return everything else back to you.
But back to the message. They said they had a patient at the Stanford Hospital with whom I was an exact match in terms of blood panel (something called an HLA match). And this person desperately needed platelets on Saturday (it takes two days to test) and could I come in right away and donate?
Honestly, my first thought was "I can't be bothered". I'd taken the train in to work so I didn't have my car. I was tired. And usually before giving platelets I like to make sure I'm ready by eating right and drinking milk before hand (donating robs calcium).
Then I stopped and thought, "What the hell am I thinking?" and called them back. I said I would be there. They gave me a 6:30 appointment.
Ok, so I looked at the shuttle and train schedules. I could take an early shuttle and train that would get me home by quarter past five. Enough time to get home, eat, drink milk, and get to Palo Alto.
So at 4:30 I waited for the shuttle that would take me to the train. The shuttle that never showed up.
I tersely called dispatch. I was put on hold for about five long minutes. Long story short. The bus had broke down.
Ok, so I asked could they promise the NEXT bus at 5:11 would show up?
I didn't tell the dispatch my story, I just said "I have to get to the train station".
So they sent out one of the intercampus shuttle vans (our work buildings are spread far and wide so there are vans that take employees hither and yon) to take me to the station.
Ok, with train schedule in hand, I worked out when I might get there, what train, what station and could The Good Man come get me? (he was working from home)
The shuttle bus driver, hearing my story, offered to drive me all the way to Palo Alto (which I thought was cool) but I said no, I've got it worked out.
So I waited for my train, anxiously bouncing my knee and watching the clock. Suddenly giving my platelets to this unknown person with an unknown malady was really, really important to me. I didn't want to let them down.
So the train was due to arrive at 5:37. 5:37 came. And went. No train.
5:43pm, the train rolls into Mountain View. Yes!
I wait for disembarking passengers and I climb on. There are plenty of seats, just as I select my fave row, the lights turn off and the sound of the engine winding down fills my ears.
The *last* time I got on the train and the lights went out, it was due to a busted cable they had to repair. So we sat on the tracks while they did. Then when we took off, we were chugging along and the part fell off. We had to stop again. Good times. So I was imagining this happening again. In horror.
I had to employ many of my new "calm down" strategies. Deep breaths. I told myself however this worked out it was supposed to work out that way. I thought about being in Half Moon Bay this weekend. The sound of the ocean. Breathe.
After about five minutes, the lights didn't come back on, but the engine was revved and we were moving…in the dark.
I only had to make it to the NEXT stop. Just one. Just make it to Menlo Park (one town north of where I needed to be). That is all I ask!
And we did make it to Menlo. Cool! Only about 15 mins late. Still enough time to make my appointment.
Except, the lights were still out. Usually with the train, when it makes a stop, you hear a "ding ding", then the doors automatically open. There is a brief window of opportunity when everyone who gets off has to get off and everyone who has to get on gets on. If you miss the window, you are, in the vernacular, screwed.
So several fellow passengers and I waited at the doors.
No power. No "ding ding".
We looked and couldn't find a manual lever. Now, panic is starting to rise. The Good Man is at the station, but I can't get off the train.
One helpful passenger said, "hey, the door is open in the next car". So like a herd of wildebeests, we turned en masse and began stampeding down the aisle of the car, overturning passengers who had just gotten on.
"We need to get off!" the gentleman in front of me said loudly.
I took up the charge as well. "Help! We need to get off! Please, let us by!"
We got to the platform between cars where indeed, the doors were open enough to allow passage.
And just as the man in front of me got to the doors, the power came back on, and the doors slammed shut.
"Nooooooo!" I wailed.
And in what can only be called a Herculean effort, the guy in front of me sacrificed important appendages, placing both hands between the rubber edges of the closing doors. Then like Superman pulling apart jail bars, he grunted a little unmasculinely, but got the doors to open and leapt off the train.
"You rock, thank you!!" I yelled as I bounded off behind him. The guy behind me turned to look and gave me that headshake and "whatta ride" smile.
"It's a weird night," I said, and he nodded and walked off.
The Good Man was waiting right where his text message said he was, and we plunged into the night and the traffic on El Camino. Terrible.
So we turned off and using one of the newest iPhone features, "Skyhook" (basically a GPS system that uses cell towers to locate you) we meandered on Palo Alto back roads, took a few wrong turns, made heroic u-turns and found the donation location.
(Have I mentioned that my Fiancée is, without a doubt, my personal superhero? This is but one of many heroic things he's done for me.)
Parked then in we went. There was a brief kerfuffle with the paperwork, but they got me set. The folks at the donation place were like, "are you the match?" It was kind of funny. "Are you the one?" to which I wanted to reply, "Yes, my child" but showed restraint.
Next challenge? Well, I tend toward anemia and have been turned down before based on low iron.
So I told this to the intake nurse. We used all the tricks we both know. Holding a cup of warm water (dilates the vessels), rubbing hands together vigorously, and shaking them. My hands were nice and warm and red when she took the sample.
You have to get a minimum reading of 12 on their little iron counting machine.
The intake nurse waved her hand over the machine while it worked. "Pixie dust" she said.
Then she said, seriously, "The Doctor is here tonight (Director of the Blood Services) and he can make an exception of we need one."
The machine thought for what felt like an eternity.
And pronounced a reading of 12.3.
Sometimes good enough is good enough.
Soon I was strapped in, needle in arm, machine whirring away, book open in front of me, platelets filling a bag and all was well.
I asked my body to give up only the finest platelets so that the person who needed them most could benefit. It took about 70 minutes to give a two-bag donation. The person who gets 'em has a much longer fight on their hands.
I was left a bit shaky and weak when it was done, but The Good Man took me into custody and made sure I was ok. Plied me with juices and soup and lots of clucking worry. Giving platelets always makes me freezing cold. And I was hungry too, but I was ok.
And on Saturday, I hope my platelets find their way to the veins of a sick person who needs help.
The Blood Center folks didn't know what the platelets were for, but they suspect it was to assist along with a bone marrow transplant.
I enjoy thinking that the recipient of my platelets will wake up Sunday morning craving a heaping plate of huevos rancheros with extra green chile, and wonder why.
We all know that green chile is a curative, right?
By the way, if you don't do so already, and you are physically able, donate blood please. It really does save lives. And when you do, ask about being tested to see if you can do platelets. Thanks!
(Found this photo online. This is the center where I donate, and that's the exact chair I sat in but not the machine that was used. The gentleman on the left in the lab coat was working last night but didn't do my donation. He's a friendly guy but is a little rough with the needle stick.)
February 6, 2008
…a New Mexican living in California and not just a Californian.
From this article:
"San Francisco voters will decide on Tuesday whether to remove the famous Alcatraz Prison visited by thousands of tourists a day and instead create a 'global peace center.'"
"Supporters would like to raze the prison and build a medicine wheel, a labyrinth and a conference center for non-violent conflict resolution."
Geez, I'm all for non-violence, peace, love, all that. But raze a historical landmark? And a very, very popular tourist attraction?
Here's hoping this goes the way many other odd measures on the SF ballots in recent history. Away…quietly. (then again, there's some odd sh-- that's been approved by voters too, so who knows?)
February 5, 2008
If you are a Democrat, that is. If you are a Republican, you gotta wait until June.
Not gonna tell you how to vote or which way to lean or who I prefer.
Just sayin', this is an interesting year. Votes count.
So vote, okay?
For my New Mexico friends, this by way of the ABQjournal, how to find your polling place.
February 4, 2008
G'wan, ask me how my weekend was. I dare ya.
Ok, I won't wait, I'll tell you anyway.
I just had the greatest weekend of my life.
At the top of the world, or at least the Top of the Mark on San Francisco's Nob Hill.
See, that's where The Good Man proposed to me.
It was a complete surprise, and well executed.
And I said yes.
Hell, I was just on top of the world to be having dinner on the 19th floor, looking out on one of the clearest nights San Francisco has had in months.
But this...so unexpected and just so right.
I'm walking about three feet off the ground.
February 1, 2008
The Good Man and I are off on a road trip. A little hooky from work today and Monday and Mama Karen's ALL happy about it.
Catch you on the other side.
Happy (safe!) Weekend!
Go NY Giants! :)