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July 30, 2010

The Loneliest Decaf Drinker in the Office

It’s been a while since I was working in an corporate office atmosphere. Well, not that long, but less than a year, and it is amazing how fast you develop new habits.

Don’t get me wrong, working from home was great.

But other than The Feline, I didn’t have any coworkers to render their opinions on my style. Or quirks. Or the number of times I have to use the bathroom in a day.

And I didn’t have to suffer the politics of the break room.

When you get to buy your own coffee, you buy the *really* good coffee. And you make it in a Bialetti. Or a melitta. You make a strong aromatic brew. And you have real half & half on hand.

You enjoy the time and the inclination to savor a cuppa before you dive into the day’s work.

I’m here to tell you, I believe I have found the world’s repository for the absolute worst coffee in the world.

Made from one of those typical office makers that’s seen better days, it’s weak, usually burnt and really sort of dull.

Add to the equation that I can’t tolerate large doses of caffeine, so I am the ONLY person drinking decaf, thus I am the only person making up the orange topped pot. I get strange side looks like “why bother” as I make up the dull brown water.

But today I found a partner in crime. I was making up a crappy pot of decaf with a packet of coffee that is god only knows old (since, seriously, nobody drinks decaf), and one of my new coworkers happened by the break room.

“That really is terrible coffee, isn’t it?” he said.

“Yes,” I replied, not wanting to be too complainy on my first week of work.

“You know the coffee bar downstairs serves Peets, don’t you?”


My head tilted like a dog who just heard kibble drop in the distant bowl.

“Excuse me?” I replied.

“Yeah. Right downstairs. Behind the elevators. Peets.” I could tell he used small words since I was making it clear I wasn’t the brightest bulb in the corporate sign.

“Wow, I didn’t know. Thank you,” I said.

He left the breakroom.

I dumped the freshly poured cup of decaf with fake creamer in it (gack) down the drain.

I RAN down stairs and found this coffee bar of which he spoke. I bowed as a worshipper honoring their god and ordered a latte.

Oh sweet mystery of life, at last I’ve found you.

July 29, 2010

The Great Dr. Pepper Incident

One of the perks of my new gig is that they make a large selection of soft drinks available for free to employees.

Now, this would be nice, except....

Several years ago, I gave up all soft drinks, both regular and diet.

They're just not good fer the ol' rig, ya know? Bad stuff, lots of chemicals, extra calories and such.

So except for a splash of ginger ale now and again to float a shot of Maker's Mark, I don't drink sodas.

But I have to say, free is pretty tempting, right?

I noted in the cooler, there were some chilled to perfection Dr. Peppers looking at me like the last puppy in the pet store.

When I was a kid, I adored Dr. Pepper. To me, it was nectar of the gods.

So yesterday, day two of the new job, I decided to cave and have myself a free Dr. Pepper.



I mean, p'tooie, bleah, barf, YUCK!

I took two sips and poured the rest out.

It didn't taste good. I'm sure some of that is due to the fact I just don't drink sodas anymore.

But you know what? I think A LOT of my reaction was that stuff from my childhood just doesn't taste the same or even good anymore.

Over this past weekend, I tried a Little Debbie Star Crunch.

That also tasted not at all like I'd wanted it to.

You know what I blame?

Corn syrup.

Ok, this isn't going to be a rant about corn syrup and how bad it is for you. It could be, but it isn't.

I’m just going to say this. Good ol' fashioned delicious cane sugar and corn syrup are NOT the same thing. The taste, the texture, the consistency, NOT THE SAME.

I blame corn syrup, which is in EVERYTHING these days, for the fact that none of the foods and beverages that I so loved in my youth taste like they should.

One could argue that as I have aged, my taste buds have changed, and there is some validity to that.

But that doesn't let pesky corn syrup off the hook.


Then, just to add insult to injury, after I took two drinks of a Dr. Pepper and threw it out, I had heartburn for the rest of the day.

It just ain't right.

July 28, 2010

Word-Reduced Wednesday

A lot of blogs I read have a "Wordless Wednesday" meme where they post an image with no or very few words.

Well, since asking me to use no words is like asking the ocean not to be so darn wet, I think I can only eke my way into a reduced-word situation.

And so...

New Mexico, being of the high desert variety of places, is normally very dry. Humidity levels in the single digits are the norm, and that warm dry air makes me happy.

After all these years living in the Bay Area, you'd think I'd be more accustomed to humidity. I am not.

So I always rather enjoy a trip back to good ol' NM to dry out (and not in that rehab kind of way).

Not this month. Nope. It rained like a sonofagun the whole time I was there. Which, honestly, is good. They need the rain.

However, swamp coolers don't work in the humidity. The evaporative cooling aspect relies on the water evaporating. Which it doesn't when it's humid.


But cloudy skies sure make pretty pictures.

Creative Commons License
Word-Reduced Wednesday and associated images by Karen Fayeth are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

July 27, 2010

Life Imitating Art

So things are going to have to change up a bit here on the ol' blog.

Ya see...I started a new job today.

After ten successful months of consulting work and being my own boss, I agreed to be owned by a corporation once again.

It's a good job and a good company and this morning, nervous and anxious I burst out the gate, excited and ready to run.

This after I spent my last five days having a blast in New Mexico with my best friend in the whole world and two other good pals. Since my girlfriends are all teachers, this was a last hurrah for them, too.

A chance for us to act like kids before it became time to act like grownups.

Among other things, we hit the town of Ruidoso, NM and painted it red.

For my non-New Mexico readers, Ruidoso is known for, in this order:

1) Horse racing
2) Skiing
3) A preponderance of Texans

This weekend, the horses were fast, skiing non-existent and the place was crawling with Texans. An almost $900,000 purse for race number nine, the Rainbow Futurity, brought them out in droves.

I didn't manage to take home any of that fast flowing cash, by the by.

After the races, some dancing got done. There might have been some "adult beverages." Lots of cussing and discussing was also accomplished.

Yesterday, worn down with that good kind of tired, I came home to get ready to go to work. I had to pull the work clothes, dust off the cobwebs and act like a professional.

As time marches on, my idyllic weekend in New Mexico will be like a distant memory.

How long before I'm running as fast as I can, falling ever more behind, quirted into submission?

This being a grownup thing is a big load of horse hockey.

Creative Commons License
Life Imitating Art and associated images by Karen Fayeth are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

July 23, 2010

How Do I Choose?

Going to get a little high minded for a Friday. I was presented with another blog post suggestion and this one poses quite a challenge. The assignment? A blog post sharing my top ten favorite works of art.

This is not an easy task. It is hard to come up with ten. It is hard to keep it to just ten. How does one choose from among all the works that touch my soul? Do I go with popular stuff? Do I go with less mainstream stuff?

And then, how does one find photos on the web that even come close to showing the magic of the work?

With much fussing and hand wringing, I've arrived at my list of ten. I'm sure the moment I hit "publish" I'll change my mind.

All but one of these items I have seen in person, and they stand out to me as show-stoppers. Items of art that made me step back, sit down, or stare transfixed (or all three).

Here we go, in no particular order:

Starry Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh

Van Gogh is, hands down, my favorite artist. I blame this on a high school English teacher who introduced me to his work.

The stabbing, slashing paint strokes appeal to me, and his pain on display, even in a pretty painting of flowers resonates with me. When I saw this painting in person at the MoMA in New York, I cried. Not just wept a little, I bawled. I'd been seeing The Good Man only six months at that point and yet he didn't think I was weird. That *is* a good man.

Tree of Life by Gustav Klimt

This was a new friend I made at New York's MoMA. After crying my eyes out over Van Gogh, I didn't imagine I'd be able to learn to love any other art works that day. I was wrong. I'm not generally a fan of Klimt, but this painting was so engaging, it couldn't be ignored. I go back and look at it pretty frequently while online. There is incredible detail in every square inch of this work.

Masked Ball at the Opera by Eduard Manet

I saw this at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC back in the late 1990's. I've found no photograph since that does the painting any justice. When you see this work in person, it's painted in such a way that you feel like you are at the party. You can see the folds and wrinkles in the clothing of the other guests. You smile, you frown. They smile and frown back. You are there, in the room, at the party. It's fascinating.

I stared at this painting for about an hour and still had a hard time tearing my eyes away.

Mourner Costume by Henri Matisse

I'm actually not much of a fan of Matisse's work. His torn paper work for which he's so famous rates only a "meh" from me. When I saw the permanent Matisse exhibit at National Gallery of Art it was mostly his paper works, so I walked through pretty quickly. I was about to leave when my eyes fell on this garment.

It's torn paper style done with fabric. In this photo, it looks sort of dull and unimaginative. In person, it's enchanting. The memories of this work of art have stayed with me for years. One day I'd love to try my hand at a cloth work inspired by this:

Dizziness by Iman Maleki

This is the only one I haven't seen in person. I found it via the Art Gallery app on the iPhone and I'm utterly fascinated by this painting. It's my wallpaper on the phone and I can stare at it and see something new every time. I feel some sort of kinship with the man in the work and I'm not sure why.

Los Dos Fridas by Frida Kahlo

It was hard to choose from among the Frida paintings as I love them all. In order to choose, I thought back to the exhibit of her work I'd attended at the De Young in San Francisco. I thought about the one work I spent the most time with. It was this one.

La Pistola y El Corazon by George Yepes

There are actually two versions of this painting, one completed in 1989 and one in 2000. It is the 1989 version that is featured on the Los Lobos album of the same name. Sadly, that painting, owned by Sean Penn, burned in a house fire.

George Yepes created a new version of the painting, however, the 1989 version is my favorite. It's darker and more intense. The second seems, to me, like only a riff on the original.

Room on the Verge by Patssi Valdez

I saw this work at the Chicano Visions exhibit at the De Young in San Francisco. The whimsy, the darkness, the movement of this work just drew me in. I sat down on the floor (no chairs or benches) and stared at it.

My fellow gallery goers looked at me like I'd lost my mind. I didn't care. I wished I had five more eyes so I could to take in more of this painting all at once.

It's gorgeous.

Jean D'aire, Burgher of Calais by August Rodin

I have an intense love for Rodin's work and it all speaks to me of hard work and sadness and endurance. I discovered this particular work at the Cantor Center for Visual Arts on the Stanford Campus and it's the one that sticks with me.

It was as part of a photography class that I was introduced to the Rodin Sculpture Garden, and I tried and tried to photograph the very serious faced Burgher. I have one photo that is pretty good, but it is only of his face. This photo shows the entire statue. He is the very definition of pathos.

Rose and Driftwood by Ansel Adams

I saw this at an Ansel Adams exhibit at the Bellagio casino in Las Vegas. The Good Man was there on business for a trade show, so I entertained myself during the days while he worked. I'd seen a lot of Adams before I took in this show, but somehow this little work had escaped my notice. I walked by it the first time and did a cartoon head whip like "whaaaaa?"

I stood in front of it and stared and stared and got lost in the depth of the woodgrain. It's spectacular. It's a gorgeous simplicity that is so hard to accomplish.

Whew...walking through all of this has left me exhausted. In a good way.

Now I need a nap and a vodka drink, not necessarily in that order.

July 22, 2010

These boots are made for...

Been going through some stuff in storage, pulling out the keepers, tossing the others.

But then, there are some items where it's hard to choose, stay or go.

I just unearthed a box full of my old boots. This is tough.

I don't wear most of these anymore. But I just can't bear to part with these dear friends either.

I just look at the worn leather...and I remember.

Like, my first pair of ropers.

I'd worn pointy style boots, but when I got to NMSU, all the folks there were wearing ropers. So of course, I needed some too.

I was about a sophomore in college, I think, when I went down to the Tony Lama outlet in El Paso to procure these babies. They are gray goat skin, soft and forgiving. I wore these a lot, as evidenced by the worn down heel.

These were my main everyday boots. I wore them dancing on the boards at Corbett Center. I wore them for my horseback riding classes. Covered in manure, I'd wear them up the hill to attend the business college.

The toes are scuffed all to hell. The pretty gray color job didn't hold up much under the dainty hooves of the insane mare I was assigned for a while in my riding class. She liked to step on feet. A lot.

Thankfully my gray boots were made for working.

When my grays were starting to show some wear, I saved up and decided to get a new pair of boots. I wanted to try Justins this time and I wanted lace ups. I also wanted pretty. My gray boots were utility. I wanted flirty.

So I bought these very impractical pearl white beauties.

Man, I loved these boots. I started wearing these to dances and leaving the beat up gray boots at home. I almost never wore the pearls riding, except once, for the horse show I participated in (and won).

I got these pretties on the cheap, as you can see, they are marked "imperfect."

I'll admit the heel wasn't balanced quite right on the right boot, but I didn't care. They were roper perfection to me. These boots were made for flirting with cute cowboys.

Ya wanna know the best part about the fact that I still have these boots?

Look at the circle engraved into the leather sole. You know how you get a groove like that on your boot? By dancing, that's how.

The leather is cracked and the boots are worn out, but they are still utterly gorgeous to me.

And then, after college, and on to work. That's when I went back to Justin and bought these guys:

I wore these to work a lot. The soft rubber and not-leather sole was easier on my feet, especially the time spent on the shipping and receiving docks. That concrete is hard on the legs, but these babies are comfy and they look good.

And the leather...oh, the leather just ages so beautifully.

These boots were made for my first real job out of college. They helped me make the transition.

I might actually pull these back out and find another chance to wear them. They are delicious.

And finally...we have these.

This is what I'm wearing now, my beautiful Ariat Fat Babies. These boots went to see the Merle Haggard show recently. These boots get a lot of compliments every time I wear them.

Right now, these boots are packed tightly in my suitcase that, by the time you read this, will be tucked in the cargo hold of an eastbound airplane.

If I'm lucky, I might get these boots out on a dance floor in Southern New Mexico on Saturday night.

Cuz these pretty pink rhinestone boots? These are made for dancing.

July 21, 2010

That Pesky Spell Check

I was rereading a few of my text messages the other day on my iPhone. I was looking for a bit of information a friend had given me, so I had the chance to read what I'd written.

I was a little bit embarrassed. Oh the violations of Funk and Wagnalls I've committed and sent out to the universe.

Since I have a full keyboard to use for texting, I tend to shy away from the internet approved shortened word uses. It's a point of pride to write in full sentence form.

I don't know why, it just is.

However...that very aggressive auto correct on the phone does tend to trip me up.

That got me to thinking about how much I rely on spell check and auto correct these days, which is bad. Spell check isn't perfect. A 100% spell checked document could still have mistakes.


There are a LOT of words that when spelled wrong, are actually still a word. But ya still look kinda silly using the wrong word.

Also, plenty of times, spell check suggests the wrong word entirely.

I see these misused but correctly spelled quite a bit online, in email and of course, on places like Facebook and Twitter.

You can find a few examples here:

10 Common Errors "Spell Check" Won’t Catch

(I'll ignore the blatant use of unnecessary quotes in that headline)

Yeah, I've either seen or made (or both) all of the errors in the article.

There's a few that get me that aren't on that list...like:

Rein, meaning how you steer a horse and;

Reign, meaning how you rule a kingdom.

Right, as in I get to have it, and;

Rite, as in I get to dance under the moon about it.

Also troublsome...

To, too and two. I tend to put too many o's in there at the wrong time. It's hard to tell the two apart.

And one that makes me bonkers is lose and loose. I see a LOT of posts on support boards about "if I could only loose ten pounds." It's a pet peeve.

The article lists through versus threw. However...that's not where my language and typing skills break down. Nope, I struggle with

Through, as in, I'm past it and;

Thorough, as in I did a complete job.

I even struggled typing that sentence. Gah!

I've noticed lately that even publishing houses, once the very model of correct spelling and grammar, are also slacking off in this department. The last four books I've read, all recent publications, have had typos, as many as six in one case.

And internet news articles! Ugh!

It seems no one is watching the chicken coop any more on spelling and grammar. Despite trying really hard not to slip, even I'm guilty as charged.

I fret that as our language continues to evolve, misspelling and bad grammar will become appropriate. English teachers of the world, unite!

July 20, 2010

I Believe...

If you've ever had occasion to see a "Blue Collar Comedy" live show, then you know they end each performance with a litany of items that each of the four comedians believes.

Here is my I Believe list for today. Subject to change. Some restrictions apply. Offer ends July 20, 2010. Not valid in all 50 states.

I Beeeelieve....

...that Costco stores, like casinos, pump some substance into their ventilation system that causes me to behave in odd ways. How else can you explain my hitting all the sample tables like a drunk at a buffet bar, then buying a two thousand pack of toilet paper?

...that the first Indiana Jones movie is the one true Indiana Jones movie, and all else are just weak riffs on the original. I rate the movies on likability in the order in which they were made.

That said...

I also beeelieve that the "Crystal Skull" movie was not quite as bad as everyone made it out to be.

...that green chile has curative powers that extend beyond just physical health. I think we can achieve world peace and fix the global economy over a plate of enchiladas. Sour cream and fried egg on top.

...that Paris Hilton did, indeed, inhale. Yea verily though she has been busted for possession twice and gotten off scott free twice, I believe the clock is ticking and she will soon be cellmates with Lindsey.

...that coffee is the work of dark, evil forces. For though I welcome coffee with both arms and hug it to my person like a long lost sibling, it does terrible things to my stomach causing pain and acid reflux and generally causing havoc. And yet, I can't seem to quit the dark beckoning brew.

...that red light cameras are patently unfair and unconstitutional and defy the Bill of Rights and upset the Code of Conduct and Robert's Rules of Order and some other stuff I can't think of right now. They don't allow me to face my accuser in court! It's bad! Real bad! Obviously, I'm still not over it.

...that AT&T is not quite as evil as we think (though they are still evil). Apple is not quite a cool as we think (though they are still cool). And that for some reason that I can't explain, I dreamt last night that I met Bill Gates. And he hit on me. : shudder :

...that the 1970's were weird and awkward during the 1970's, and somehow time has made us all forget that. Now we remember the decade as cool.

...that times have gotten a little tough when grownups are stealing girl scout cookies. And stealing their money. And stealing their cookies. What's next? Nun's stealing babies? Oh. Weird.

...that white chocolate is just as delicious as regular chocolate and should be afforded all rights pertaining thereto. Same goes for vanilla ice cream. Oh, and also that something must be done *immediately* regarding the vanilla shortage. Code Red, people.

...that by writing this list of I Believe items, I have successfully avoided doing any real work for an hour and a half.

July 19, 2010

Word of the day: Obdurate

ob·du·rate   [ob-doo-rit, -dyoo-] –adjective

1. unmoved by persuasion, pity, or tender feelings; stubborn; unyielding.
2. stubbornly resistant to moral influence; persistently impenitent: an obdurate sinner.

Ah obdurate. How I embody you so.

This word crossed my path again yesterday while watching an episode of Jeeves & Wooster, a fun British show that dates back to the early 90's. The PG Wodehouse books date back much farther than that, some written in the early 1900's and now in public domain (thus all loaded up on my Kindle!).

The Good Man introduced me to Jeeves & Wooster and I'm now hopelessly in love.

I love language and words, and Wodehouse certainly had a way with the Queen's English.

So I sort of chuckled this morning when I turned to my blog idea generator, and this was the suggestion:

"When other people tell me what to do...."

Answer: I become obdurate.

I'm not proud of it. It's just in my nature.

As the third of three kids born to a very smart and very in control family, I was "the baby" and thus everyone just, you know, told me what to do.

This certainly got me past many a hazard in my infancy, but there came a time, I don't know what age, when damnit, I was tired of being told what to do!

So much so, that being told what to do made me act out.

It's a trait that's carried through to adulthood. In fact, it only became more deeply entrenched an increased in velocity.

One would think that this would make me a very bad employee. Actually, when it comes to managers I like and respect, I have no trouble being told what to do in the workplace.

No, Madame Obdurate is more of a home life kind of gal.

Which makes friends, family and loved ones *ever* so happy.

I find my tendency to dig in when someone tells me what to do really isn't all that unique. It's pretty much a go-to for most of us.

Because we're all special little snowflakes, we want to do things our own damn way and I don't care what you say and pa-tooey!


As I often say to my friends, you don't have to be free of your emotional baggage, you just have to be self-aware about it.

See how I reel 'em in? Look at that face? Would she harm a fly? No, I don't think so. But tell her what to do and WHAMMO! Obdurate all up in your grille!

July 16, 2010

Sometimes Words Just Don't Get It

This morning, I sat quietly at my desk thinking about an appropriate blog post for this warm Friday.

A post that would wrap up all that went down this week, the highs, the lows, the heat, the headaches.

I found that I just didn't have all the words to put together in a nice clean way that would properly explain it all.

So I had a bright idea. I would get my camera out and I would take a photo.

One photo that would explain it all. A visual metaphor for the week.

So I got my gear and I polished up the lens, checked battery levels, and figured I'd go outside to take the snap.

As I worked, I thought about potential shots in my head...

A wilted red rose on a drooping bush, weary in the heat?

A great macro photo of the beat up stop sign at the end of the road?

You know...something arty like that.

With camera ready, I turned and aimed the lens out my window to be sure it was working.

That's when I saw the perfect image.

The image that properly describes everything that went by this week. A week that a former coworker would refer to as "being pulled through the knothole."


Here it is. I had to go no further than the table in front of the window to find my muse.

Yes, she's awake. No, I don't know why she's laying there like that. She held that position for quite some time.

Right before rolling over and falling off the table, then getting stuck behind it.

If that's not a metaphor, I don't know what is.

July 15, 2010

When you point a finger...

How does that old saying go? When you point a finger at someone, there are three pointing back at you?

Something like that.

Was pulling the virtual slot machine lever on a blog idea generator, and the topic came up, "Write a letter to someone you need to forgive."

Well geez. Make it easy, why don'tcha?

So I thought to myself, "Who do I have to forgive?" and an image came immediately to mind.

You see, there seems to be something I can't get over. It's childish and stupid, but for some reason I'm hanging on to this.

In considering how I'd write a letter to forgive, I realized...it's not the other person I need to forgive. It's me. I have to forgive myself for being such an assh*le sometimes.

Here's the background:

It's Saturday night, at the Gipsy Kings concert, sitting in the second row with my husband, excited for the show to start.

As showtime is close, in walks a gorgeous woman with dark hair, red lips, long toned legs clad in tiny white shorts, her top half in a tiny halter-top. She's also wearing a radiant smile.

She's beautiful. And she sits right in front of us.

Fine. Oh just...fine.

I look at her and I want to hate her. No. I look at her and I want to be her. On the outside, anyway.

The show starts and she and the guy she is with are drinking, they are laughing, they are having fun. She gets up to dance and catches the eye of the entire audience, the band, the roadies, the ushers, everyone.

She's beautiful and she has rhythm and she lacks self-consciousness and she dances well. We can't help but watch her.

I want to stop envying her, but I can't. And all those ugly things that women think about each other I'm thinking in my mind.

As the show goes on, I stop looking at the woman and I get into the show. As I described yesterday, it was an amazing musical experience.

Toward the end of the show, I start to notice the lady in front of me again.

Everything she's been drinking all night has started to catch up to her. She's got her eyes laser set on one member of the band and she's doing all she can to get and keep his attention.

She's trying to dance just for him, but she's so drunk, she's wobbling on her high heels.

She shakes her medically enhanced boobs for the singer, and one pops out of her halter-top. Her boyfriend stuffs it back in and speaks sharply into her ear. He's not happy.

She's so drunk, she doesn't care.

She keeps trying to dance in a sexy way for the guy in the band, but now it's become sad. She's stumbling around and sloppy drunk.

And I feel a little haughty. A little Dana Carvey as Church Lady high and mighty.

When the show ends and the band members are taking bows, she rushes up to the stage and summons the man she's been vigorously trying to get the attention of all night, much to the dismay of her boyfriend.

He comes over to shake her hand and she tugs at him hard, almost pulling him off the stage. When he's in range, she plants a sloppy kiss on his lips. The band man isn't happy. The boyfriend isn't happy. The lady throws her hands up in the air like a referee signaling a touchdown.

Now I'm embarrassed for her. In that haughty way I have.

The lady's boyfriend says some words to her, trying to keep his cool. She's so drunk, nothing is sinking in, so he grabs her hand and drags her away. He has to help her up the stairs out of the venue.

As we leave, we see them sitting on a low wall talking. Well, he's talking. She's trying not to pass out.

The Good Man and I go out to our car and we sit there waiting for the parking lot to empty out a bit. When we find a gap in the flow of cars, The Good Man turns on the car and hits the headlights. In the spotlight, we see the couple again. She's now slipped-over-the-line drunk, unable to walk. Her high heels are off and she can hardly stand.

The suffering boyfriend now picks her up like a sack of flour, under his arm, and carries her drunk dead weight to their car.

I feel sorry for the man. And the lady.

And I feel smug.

As we drive home, for some reason all I can talk about is the lady and her boyfriend, and I don't know why.

Why does this bother me? Why can't I stop obsessing??

And so here's the forgiveness part:

Dear Karen,

On the night of July 10, you, as they say in the vernacular, showed your ass.

Just because someone is physically attractive does not mean they are a better person than you...and just because they show they are human does not mean you are better than them.

It just means we're all human.

How about you forgive yourself for all the things you think you should be and aren't, and all the things you think you are but shouldn’t be?

How about just being ok being you?

Betcha it might make your days go a whole lot easier.

I forgive you. Now you forgive you too.

Go get 'em, tiger.



July 14, 2010

¡Baila Me!

When the Gipsy Kings command you to dance, you dance.

It doesn't matter if you don't think you can dance. You dance anyway. You shake the maracas the Good Lord gave ya, and you have a good time doing it.

After many years of yearning to see the Gipsy Kings live, last weekend, I finally got my chance.

I got tickets back in April. I jumped on line the very second they went on sale and my diligence paid off. I scored two tickets second row center.

I knew it was going to be a good show. I had no idea it was going to be one of the most amazing shows I've ever seen.

The music of the Gipsy Kings is beautiful, traditional gitano music, played by brothers. The men, from two different families, were born in France, children of gitanos who fled during the Spanish Civil War of the 1930's.

What I mean to say is...they are the real deal.

Their music moves me in ways I can't understand.

Best not to even try to understand.

Three songs into the night, Patchai Reyes commanded us to dance.

And the people in the venue rose to their feet, and we danced.

Even The Good Man who doesn't dance got up and danced. It was useless to resist.

At the beginning of the show, six men walked out with matching nylon strung acoustic guitars (four of them played upside down by left handers), hit a couple tune up notes and they were off to the races. I was struck by the blinding fast guitar work.

As the venue allowed photography, I tried to capture even a tiny bit of what we experienced that night. I found I was too enchanted by the music and didn't actually take a lot of photos.

But here is a photo of Andre Reyes that gives you a small idea. I used as long an exposure as I dared to capture the movement of his hands. (Click to see a larger size)

My mother tells me that somewhere in the murky waters of my genetic past, we are what she calls "French gipsy".

I understand that to be a true Gitano, you must be Gitano on all four sides...meaning, all four of your grandparents must be full-blooded Gitano. I’m not fully Gitano on any sides, but the rhythm resides somewhere in my strands of DNA.

On warm summer Saturday night in an outdoor mountain venue, the Gipsy Kings plucked the strings to my soul.

And I danced.

Oh, did I dance...

July 13, 2010

Someone's Feeling a Little Bit Tidy

I suppose in this world, we all have our own ways to be a little bit uptight.

You know, that one thing we get clamped down about? One might call it, dare I say, anal? (in that Freud sort of way)

Yeah. I might have a few of these uh, quirks.

It was clear to me that The Good Man was my destiny when, early in our relationship, I saw the label making machine in his office at work.

Oh yes. It was the granddaddy version to the same one I had in my own office.

A man who understood the need for a label maker! Oh swoon!

There is something sooo right about having a stack of paperwork neatly placed into manila files (of various colors) with clean, readable labels.

Yes! Oh sweet sphincteritis of the gods!

It shouldn't make me that happy. And yet...it does.

So imagine my utter joy when The Good Man was cleaning out some boxes and getting rid of supplies, and asked me if I wanted this:

It's one of those old fashioned style embossing label makers...the kind where you turn the letter to the arrows and squeeze?

"Why yes please!" I said quickly, excited to have the power of making the labels right there in the palm of my hand.

It's so...I don't know, engaging to spell out each word letter by letter, turning the disk, squeezing the handle. Thinking ahead to how I want it to look....

Much like the Solo red cups, I have an unnatural appreciation for this little manual point and shoot label maker.

I'd like to teach the world to organize.

In perfect harmony.

I'd like to file the clutter and crap.

And keep it alphabetically.

(can you name that jingle?)

I know, I know. It's so wrong...I need help......

July 12, 2010

Whoa! Fair New Mexico

Looking for news from the homeland, I hit up the news tab on Google and put in New Mexico as my search term.

And what did I get back from that big omnipotent search engine?

New Mexico man set on fire after losing drinking game

3 dead in New Mexico business shooting...


Police search for two after finding missing boy (in New Mexico)*

My oh my former home state. Very busy in the news today. But not, you know, in a good way.

Clearly, Bill disapproves....

* text in parentheses is mine.

July 8, 2010

An Unexpected Convergence of the Universe

Had a weird day yesterday.

Well, most of my days are weird. Yesterday was especially so.

I was working in the studio and painting up a storm. Since The Good Man was out and about, I took the opportunity to turn on the oldies country station I like. 104.7 out of Albuquerque does an internet stream.

It's a great station for classic country stuff. I try to spare The Good Man from my country music as much as I can. All for the sake of the marriage and things like that....

So as I painted, on the radio came Merle Haggard, and George Strait, a little Ray Price and even a stab at some Garth Brooks (the old stuff).

Well, it didn't take but a minute, and I was vacuumed up into the Wayback Machine. I found myself struggling with heart pangs that were hard to ignore.

It doesn't help that I'm also reading a Max Evan's book right now. In it, he describes horses and New Mexico plains and mountains...

Well, it's more than a girl can take.

I tried to fight off the homesick but it started to hurt deep inside.

So I called up my best friend.

"You either gotta come get me out of this wayback machine or you gotta get in here with me," I left on her voicemail.

She called back quick. "Open the hatch, I'm coming in!" she said.

So being the kind of friend that you keep around for some twenty plus years, she talked me down and reminded me that I'm just a couple weeks from actually *being* in New Mexico again. So could I just hold out a bit?

Feeling a lot better, I hung up the phone and turned off the radio.

Then the Good Man came home and all was right in my world again.

About an hour later, I heard my iPhone buzz.

I picked it up to see that my old boss from Sandia Labs was pinging me. She is a dear friend and the best boss I've ever had. She told me that she and her boss (who was my first manager at Sandia and is also a good friend and a fine Aggie alum) were having drinks while out on a business trip.
Their conversation had turned to stories about, well, me.

She was recounting a few of them via text messages (we had a lot of fun back in those days...the mid-90's) and she said, "That was the best time I've ever had at work. We should never have let you go to the Bay Area."

And damnit all if that sharp pang didn't come right back to my heart.

Now I keep in touch with my former amazing Boss Lady, but we haven't spoken a lot in the past year (other than to congratulate her on a recent marriage).

Sort of out of nowhere, on a day when I’m homesick anyway, there she was relating stories of a great time in my life back when I lived in Albuquerque.

And I seized up a little.

It was weird how all these events came together on one day.

So I talked it over with The Good Man. I told him I'm afraid of forgetting who I am and where I come from. He suggested that just that fear alone may keep it from being so.

He asked, "Do you want to move back?"

And I said, "No, because I think I'd yearn for San Francisco if I left!"

Over the weekend, we went to see a theater show, "The Tosca Project," that was so San Francisco and the heart of North Beach that I love profoundly, that it was moving and deeply gratifying to my soul.

The thought of being far away from the soul of that City is a sad thought.

Sometimes I’m a girl caught between all the Karens that make up who I am.

I don't have any answers. I figure I'm just going to have a very high electrical bill this month, what with all this constant use of the Wayback Machine (it's not Energy Star rated.....)

July 7, 2010

What Does This Image Mean to You?

Take a gander. I'll bet this image elicits an immediate visceral reaction:

It sure does for me. If you were in college or attended any sort of raucous party in the last several decades, then you too have an instant recognition and reaction to....

The ubiquitous Solo Red Cup.

Truly an American icon.

When a keg is purchased, what must come along with it? A nice big stack of Solo Red Cups.

Having a picnic? Well then what is a certain necessity? The Solo Red Cup.

Up for a game of beer pong? Gonna need several of these bad boys.

Sometimes it comes in blue, but red is the most recognizable and widely available color.

I have a deep appreciation and a love for the Solo Red Cup that borders on something inappropriate (but not quite objectophilia).

Summertime makes me think of my old friend Solo Red Cup. Warm days, beer with a head that is way too foamy because the knucklehead tapped the keg wrong, and flip flops.

In my memory, days seem a lot simpler when I have a Solo Red Cup in my hand.

May we all have a Solo Red Cup kind of a day....


July 6, 2010

Insomnia, Plaything of the Creative Mind

Yeah, so I'm pretty much not sleeping these days.

Can't say I have a lot of worries on my mind keeping me up. All the standard stuff, nothing especially taxing.

Yesterday, I was firmly awake by 5:30am, so I thought, what the heck, I'll get up and get on the day.

I rose with a vigor unusual for one who hasn't had much sleep. Ok, I did take on a bit of caffeine, and that probably helped, but man oh manischewitz, I was full of energy and had a wonderfully creative day.

I was in the flow. It's rather addictive, actually, being in the creative flow.

I got a lot of the To Do's done and even many of the I'd Like To Do's made progress.

Good stuff. I felt pleasantly tired by the end of the day. Like I'd put in a good, valuable day's work.

So I dropped off to sleep.

Then, at 4:01 this morning (I know cuz I checked the clock) I was awake again.

I had an idea!

And at 4:01 in the morning, it seemed like a super duper blog idea!

Oh yeah, I was fairly salivating to get the blog post written about this idea. It would be funny! Witty! And maybe even a bit touching!

So I *had* to jot it down, quickly opening notes on the iPhone and tapping out the idea.

Yes! I couldn’t go back to sleep I was so excited about the idea! I'd get up right away with the alarm and do some Google work to support the idea!

It was going to rock!

Hooray me!

Yeah. This is how lack of sleep and middle of the night ideas can fool you.

My fabulous 4:01 am idea was: "The Least Favorite Color of Crayon"

Yeah. Woo!

It was going to be an indictment of people who gaze on less vibrant colors and don't give them a chance in the sixty-four count universe.

I was sure the least favorite crayon color would be black. This focus on the color black is likely due to the canvas I'm currently crafting. It has a deep black background and I'm totally into it. So maybe my brain is processing the color...or something.

Except, it turns out that the least favorite crayon color is *not* black, it's white. Which makes sense because kids most often use crayons on a sheet of white paper, and so then what is the use?

And while this makes for an interesting bit of trivia, it does not, however, make for a scintillating blog post.

By the way, the favorite crayon colors are red and blue. So now you know. Drop that one at a cocktail party.

Also found as part of my Google research:

Behold, Crayola's Thirteen Retired Colors. I grieve for them all. Alas poor raw umber, I hardly knew you.......

Image from Wikipedia and used under a Creative Commons License

July 5, 2010

On Rules and Flouting the Rules

There is a quote attributed to the Dalai Lama that goes like this:

"Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively."

I generally agree with this sentiment. I've seen it applied beautifully to music and painting, and I personally break the principle rule of photography with gusto every chance I get.

The one area that I get a little persnickety about breaking the rules is the discipline of spelling and grammar.

In this area, I get out my schoolmarm glasses and become VERY strict.

I believe that both effective communication and indeed, the very fabric of the English language, depends on proper grammar and spelling.

Despite, of course, the daily assault on the English language lobbed by the texting/twittering/facebooking phenomenon.

I recently read the bestselling book, "The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake" by Aimee Bender.

It's a sad, melancholy tale of a young girl who can taste the emotions of the person who prepared the food she eats. It's an odd and slightly surreal book that delves deeply into the secrets and strange predilections of the family at the center of the story.

But as I dived into the book, I was brought up short right away by the complete lack of quotation marks to designate dialogue.

You know, dialogue is bit tough to follow when there are no quotation marks. Indeed Ms. Bender didn't even follow standard dialogue format as often the sentences spoken between characters overlapped in a single paragraph.

I found it maddening and it made my progress through the book slow and rather difficult. I often had to re-read pages to be sure I knew what was going on.

I did get through the book, however, because Ms. Bender is a teller of beautiful stories.

There is a book that also eschewed quotation marks that I tried to read ten or twelve years ago that didn't fare as well. In fact, I got a third of the way through the infernal book then got up the moment I'd had enough, got in my car, went to the library and dropped the blasted book into the donation slot. Literally. I got so mad I hesitated not a moment before I ejected the book from my home.

That book is one you might know, "All The Pretty Horses" by Cormac McCarthy. Mr. McCarthy may be an award-winning author, but he's no favorite of mine.

Mr. McCarthy's style on display in his recent spate of bestselling books may be something of a driver to this now popular style of throwing out useful punctuation marks.

To be blunt, I blame McCarthy for the trend.

However, my blame may be poorly placed.

Recently The Good Man and I watched a documentary called "It/ll Be Better Tomorrow" about the author Hubert Selby Jr. Known best for his books "Last Exit to Brooklyn" and "Requiem for a Dream," over his career, Mr. Selby also flagrantly violated the rules of punctuation, most notably his apostrophes are replaced with slashes. So she'll becomes she/ll.

However, at least he's consistent in his use, and there is some sort of mark designating what's (or what/s) going on, so I can at least follow along.

Not so with ol' Cormac.

It seems I'm not the only one who has noticed this literary shift.

In an October 2008 essay in the Wall Street Journal, author Lionel Shriver also notes the lack of quotation marks, quoting material from McCarthy's "No Country For Old Men" by way of example, but McCarthy is far from the only author out there employing this device.

To me, it feels indulgent on the part of the writer to expect that their readers will simply figure it out for themselves.

I think Mr. Shriver sums it up quite nicely at the end of his essay:

"When dialogue makes no sound, the only character who really gets to talk is the writer."

And the thing is, as a writer, I've always thought my job was to get out of the way.

Ah well, as NewMexiKen and I discussed in the comments section of this post, art can be a tricky thing to define. The rules go all slidey* when we talk about what is or isn't acceptable in creating works of art.

That means I get to keep my punctuation marks and while others can set theirs free.

Oh...and then there is the inappropriate use of quotation marks. That's a whole other discussion.

*Also there is my personal habit of making up words. Ah well, back to throwing stones at my own glass house...

July 4, 2010

Happy Fourth of July!

May you have a firecracking good time!

July 2, 2010

You Mean History Books Are Wrong?!

Hard to believe since I *know* all history textbooks are a true and accurate accounting of history. Just like everything you read on the internet is true!

Turns out...

Betsy Ross may not have created or inspired the design for the American flag.

Shocking news during these pre-Fourth of July preparations!

USA Today story found linked on Shoeboxblog

July 1, 2010

The Shame...The Shaaaaame!

So...a couple years back, looking for something easy and sort of trashy to read, I stumbled across some online hubbub about that Twilight book series.

Ya know, I do love tween/teen fiction. I mean, I read every Harry Potter through to the end. The Golden Compass series too.

So I ordered the first three books in the Twilight series (the fourth wasn't out yet) from the library and I read 'em through.

Well, I read the first two all the way through. The third, I stopped about halfway through and returned it to the library. I was done. So done. Completely, utterly, oh my god why did I read this, can't unread what I've read, d-o-n-e, done.

Oh the angst! The agony! The yearning!

Fine, sure. I imagine the perspective of a 40 year old married woman and a giddy hormonal teen girl are, indeed, rather different.

But I got *pissed off* at the "I can't be with you" aspect of it. And the "you deserve better" bullsheet.

Ok look, I've dated a few men in my time. My thing wasn't vampires, like Bella. It was cowboys. Beautiful and amazing and soul sucking in their own way.

I've had MORE than my fair share of guys who come on all strong, wooed me along, then gave me the "you are too good for me" line. Or the "I’m too dedicated to my work/life/horse/truck/school to be with you."

Or the "you shouldn't be with a guy like me."

It is ALL a form of utter, unadulterated bullsh*t.

Ya like me, ya wanna be with me? Be with me. Ya like me but wanna like a whooole lotta other girls too? Well, sack up about it!

And so in this book, oooh here is this poor *suffering* vampire who can't be with the girl (cuz he wants to kill her), but then he CAN be with the girl, but I can't! Yes I can!

No, I break up with you!

But I can't liiiive without you.

Bella, sista, run. Don't walk. Run. Find a nice dependable guy (and not that Jacob dude who ends up naked in the woods. That's just...weird) and get on with your life.

Yeah. I might have had a sort of personal, visceral reaction to the story based on things that might have little to do with the story.


So, utter fool that I am, ya wanna know what I did? Well, I've been hearing all this mess about the new Twilight movie opening up. I thought...hell, why not. Maybe the movie versions are better.

I finally watched the first movie in the series, Twilight.

I'll say this, the screenwriters did a fine job of adapting the book. Really. They stayed very true to the story and visually it's very well done.

And when I first saw a photo of Robert Pattinson, I thought "yeah, ok! He really looks the part of Edward. Perfect!"

But his acting! My god, son! I realize that Edward is all cold (literally) and sullen and austere and a bunch of other things that make him squinch up and be overly emo and serious and stuff.

But dude. Are you even in there? Was your preparation for this role to just go limp and then stand in front of a camera? Have some presence, man!


And then the whole push-pull, yes-no thing got me all worked up again, too.

And now I'm just stalking around being irritable.

If you are the sort of person who loves this whole Twilight thing, good on ya. Believe me, I understand. Enjoy your team Edward/Jacob tug of war. Enjoy that moody monster. Really. I bid you no ill will!

Me. I need a brain cleanser. I cannot believe I watched that.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to squirt scrubbing bubbles in both ears and wait for this memory to fade like mold from my shower stall.

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.