Filed under: awkward, backyard, Baxter Black, Bay Area, business is business, Celebration, celebrity, chasing cowboys, college, country music, crazy, crying, dancing, daydreaming, drama, dreams, family, farming, Fat Babies, friends, fun, giddy, gratitude, growing up, hell, history, I ain't as good as I once was, I love this bar, in my 'hood, Las Cruces, latent childhood, life, Love, make it work, memories, mi corazon, moving, Music, New Mexico, NMSU, nostalgia, Opinions, overwhelmed, party, play through, pondering, show and tell, stories, thank you, truth is stranger than..., w00t, wayback machine, where I come from, woo hoo!
Despite the fact that The Good Man and I actually moved two weeks ago, we didn’t fully depart the old place until this past weekend.
That last mile is a sonofabitch.
I guess we just wanted to save the best for last? Or something. Basically, the last stuff to exit the old place was the stuff from deep in the dark recesses of storage under the house.
Let’s be honest, this stuff it wasn’t “our” stuff, it was my stuff. Lots and lots of boxes, some of which hadn’t been opened since they made the 1,200 mile ride from Albuquerque to the Bay Area.
The goal this weekend was to open those deteriorating boxes, get rid of what I could, and what was left, repack into fresh boxes and move on.
This proved to be a more difficult task than I had expected.
There were some surprises in those ol’ boxes. Especially the one I’d jauntily labeled “Karen’s Childhood.”
What a doozy that one was.
Sunday morning, there I sat on the cold floor of my now former garage, used my Buck knife to slice open the “childhood” box and dug around in there. I extracted a now almost fourteen year old gallon size Ziploc bag containing a bunch of papers and stuff I clearly didn’t know what to do with when I left Albuquerque.
I unzipped the bag, pulled out the contents and went through it piece by piece. I turned over photos, old love notes, and a ticket stub.
I gasped and my eyes got a little watery from both joy and memory.
The Wayback Machine gobbled me whole.
Here’s what I found:
The year was…um….yeah. 1990? Maybe 1989? Oh jumping jehosophat! I don’t know. A long time ago when my skin was elastic and my pants were not.
It was Ag Week at NMSU. An annual celebration that was a week full of fun, games, and dancing for all us kids in and around the Ag College. It culminated in a big concert and dance at the Pan Am center on the last day of the week.
This was a special year. My best good friend excitedly told me that her Uncle Bax would be performing at that year’s Ag Week. And by Uncle Bax, she meant Cowboy Poet and legendary New Mexican, Baxter Black.
That year there was another yahoolio on the bill with Bax. Some nobody named Vince Gill.
Yeah. That Vince Gill. Before anyone knew who he was.
Friday morning we were invited to come to the Ag Lobby to meet and greet. Bax was there holding court and signing autographs, and gave my best friend a huge hug when she walked up. We talked and laughed with Bax a while and then we went over to check out this Vince Gill character. He was wearing a pair of NMSU sweatpants, a three day old scruffy beard, and hair that hadn’t been washed in a good long while.
He was nice enough. Looked totally exhausted. He signed a glossy black and white promo photo (I found that in the bag too) and we walked away wondering who that rube was.
He put on a hell of a show that night. And so did Uncle Bax.
Let’s just say this, it was a hell of a party.
One for the history books. Sure would be fun to live that one again.
When the trash went out at the end of Sunday, the Bax and Vince ticket didn’t go with it. It went back into the Ziploc bag, then into a new box.
Maybe in another fourteen years I’ll slice open that box and discover it again.
And well up.
Those were salad days, indeed.
Filed under: anniversary, art, Bay Area, birfday, cake, Celebration, chasing cowboys, country music, dancing, Fat Babies, fun, gratitude, Love, melancholy, memories, Music, Opinions, Teachers, woo hoo!
Today, April 6th, country king Merle Haggard turns an amazing 74 years old.
I’d just like to give The Hag a hearty Feliz Cumpleaños and and big shout out for another year of amazing music.
Equals some real, real nice memories.
Thank you for being such an integral part of my life, Hag.
And cheers to your next trip around the sun.
Special shout out to my twitter buddy, local radio guy @Pcon34 for playing “Fightin’ Side of Me” on the early morning show. Saaaalute!
Filed under: Bay Area, big weather, blogging, dancing, dreams, family, farming, Fat Babies, fun, gratitude, grief, guilt, hellidays, homesick, Las Cruces, life, melancholy, Opinions, overwhelmed, wayback machine
On this post-holiday rainy day, I reserve the right to be melancholy.
Holiday blues, weeping gray clouds, and general lethargy. Sure. It’s my prerogative.
I am loath to say the next seven words I’m about to say but…
I heard this great story on NPR.
You may not realize how pompous I think the people are who quote NPR. Now here I am committing the crime I rail against.
Through a series of events, the record was shelved until recently. Camp met the new studio head at Reprise who gave Camp’s record a fresh listen and it was finally released in September of this year.
What’s got me going here, got me writing a whole blog post about this story, is one of Camp’s songs that they played on the air.
It was a beautifully written song about being at the funeral of his grandfather. For some reason, the words reminded me of the incredibly sad funeral I attended back in August.
Despite the passing of four months, I find I still grieve for my friend. I guess there’s still something left to grieve, because lately he’s been showing up in my dreams.
Listening to Shawn Camp’s song reminded me of a dream I had just last night.
It was me, and my friend, and we were dancing. Just a simple two-step, nothing fancy, but we danced and he was whole and healthy and grinning from ear to ear.
My best friend was there too, and before I was even done, she got the next dance with him. The three of us laughed like it was, well, 1994, and it was good.
Now, this dream was particularly odd because in real life, my friend wasn’t much of a dancer. Oh, he was long legged and tall, a perfect partner. But he had a farmer’s sensibilities and didn’t dance that much. He could, and did, but it wasn’t something he did a lot.
But there in my dream we danced. When I woke up, I remembered seeing my friend’s body laid out there in a casket inside the El Paso First Baptist Church.
The old Southern saying is “now, don’t he look natural?”
No, he didn’t look natural. In my dream smiling and laughing and giving me seventeen kinds of heck…that was natural.
I’ve always been pretty glad that at the end of the line for my dad, one afternoon when my mom had run into town for errands, my dad and I had a talk. It was uncomfortable and weird, but in that talk, a lot of things were said that needed to be said. I can happily say I have no unresolved issues there.
But with my dear friend, I have something unresolved. It niggles at the corners of my mind and sits on my chest when I have another dream in which he plays a cameo. I owed him an apology. I’d planned to deliver that apology when he came home from the surgery from which he never returned.
Perhaps in dreams I can find the way to lay my issues to rest, to lay down the burden I carry around, to feel at peace with the loss of my friend.
Or maybe we can just dance and forget about I’m sorries.
After my best friend is done (which may take awhile), I got the next waltz.
Cuz these Fat Babies were made for dancing
Photo by Karen Fayeth
Filed under: adorable, bailar, chasing cowboys, country music, dancing, Fat Babies, friends, fun, gratitude, laffs, Las Cruces, life, NMSU, Opinions, photography, show and tell, where I come from, wild horses
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.
Filed under: Albuquerque, baseball, Bay Area, being sick, blogging, books, Celebration, Crafty Chica, Fat Babies, good eats, gratitude, homesick, life, New Mexico, Opinions, SF Giants, the feline, The Good Man
Hey, contrary to popular opinion, I haven’t run off screaming into the sunset (a la Daffy Duck). Nope, I only managed to contract a vile form of stomach flu or maybe food poisoning that knocked me down for about five days last week.
It was the worst stomach ailment I’ve ever experienced in a life that’s crossed paths with plenty of gastroenteritis over the years.
It was bad. Real bad.
And you know, a year and a half into this marriage thing, I’m still learning how to handle things like living in a house with another person and only one bathroom.
Good times. We made it through the crisis with compassion and humor. Lots of humor.
The good news is, I’m back up and around and able to eat solids again.
Over the past week, I noted a few new commenters on the blog and so I have to stop a moment and say “hi!” and a big thanks to new readers.
I’m coming up on a three year anniversary of this crazy blog (March 17), and slowly but surely the number of visitors is increasing.
Which is amazing. I have much gratitude, thank you!
There was a perplexing comment made on a post from last week, and it got me thinking. Since I was doing a lot of lying around whining most of last week, I had some time to think.
In light of some new folks hanging around, a pending three year blogaversary, and my wading back into blogging after a tough week, I decided a “getting to know me” post might be in order.
My longtime readers may find most of this stuff a retread of what they’ve already learned over the years. But for new readers, this might be a good sort of background to kick things off.
Here we go, some fun facts:
As my bio says, I’m a New Mexico girl who is now living in California. I’ve been in California for about thirteen years now, but still, New Mexico is where I lived the longest. For better or worse, that’s shaped my outlook on life.
I was raised in Albuquerque back in the 70′s and 80′s when Albuquerque was growing, but still had a lot of dirt roads running through town.
Being homesick for New Mexico was the genesis of this blog. That is where it started, but I’ve managed to veer off course quite a bit over the past three years. And I like it!
My favorite color is red. Unless it is purple. Then there is my love affair with orange. And cobalt blue. Man, I love cobalt blue. And black. Can’t go wrong with black. I like bold colors. It’s hard to pick just one.
I’m the youngest child of three, which has definitely skewed my worldview, whether for better or for worse is in the eye of the beholder.
My dad was an engineer, which definitely skewed my worldview.
Growing up, I was deeply and positively affected by the prevailing Hispanic and Native American cultures (my ethnicity was the minority on the playground) of New Mexico. I identify more with the cultures in which I was raised then my own genetic lineage. It makes me happy.
I also grew up “a little bit country,” a fact that makes me proud, and sort of perplexes the people I live and work with in the urban Bay Area (I dropped a “this ain’t my first rodeo” on a conference room full of people, including a VP of manufacturing, in my first year working here. It brought the room to a screeching halt. I rather enjoyed that.)
The mid-2000′s were tough years for me. 2005 was a landmark year.
A long-term relationship had ended badly the year before and being alone again after all that time was disorienting.
After a close call in 2004, in February of 2005 (yesterday, to be exact) my father finally passed away after a valiant fight with a terrible lung disease. My relationship with my dad had been complicated…so this was also disorienting.
Four months later, my best friend from high school died of cancer that had started in her ovaries and ended in her brain. She left an adorable young daughter and a grieving husband behind.
In 2005 I was morbidly obese. Not much more to say on that topic.
However, that summer, after a long talk from a doctor after a regular physical in which the words “you will die” came up a lot, I began to eat better, smaller, healthier, and I exercised as much as my aching joints would allow. Funny what watching someone die will do for your motivation.
The weight started coming off fast. I lost over 100lbs in a year.
In November 2005, I met this guy. A really charming fellow. I may have even chased him around a little bit. Thankfully he let me catch him, and we married in 2008.
2005 made me realize that in order to know great joy, I also had to know great sorrow.
The kind of sorrow that rips your guts out, makes you afraid to leave your home, and makes you wonder if you can ever be happy again. Then I learned that surviving it can manage to produce this amazing guy who actually gets your sense of humor and will put up with your sh*t.
Ain’t that a kick?
By the by, I refer to my husband as The Good Man on this blog.
I have a cat. She’s a pain in the ass. She also has one of the best personalities I’ve ever known (human or animal). I try not to be “the cat lady” and blog too much about my pet. Sometimes it can’t be helped.
When I let myself dream, what I most want to be when I grow up is a published writer. I write fiction mostly, but non-fiction too. I have six completed but unpublished novels. I self-published a seventh just to see how the process works. Yes, I have a book on Amazon. It’s actually not that hard to do.
This blog makes me sit down and write every weekday, and has improved my writing skills exponentially over the past three years.
I also love to craft. I make mostly Mexican inspired pieces and I’m not bashful in my love and admiration for The Crafty Chica. It was one of her books that kicked me in the butt and gave me a voice for all the artistic ideas that I had rolling around in my head. A link to my Etsy store is on the left side of the page.
I’m also a very, very amateur photographer. I’ve been taking classes and my technique is improving, but there is a long way to go. I tend to believe more in getting a great shot from the camera and less Photoshop, so that means I’ll likely always languish as an amateur. I weary of all the over corrected and over Photoshopped photos in the world, but that’s just me.
I like pie. Sour cherry mostly, though a good tart key lime runs a close second. Blueberry is nice too.
I’m a brunette. My eyes are a greenish-brown.
This photograph scares me more than you know. (NM’s Governor Richardson)
My favorite author is Larry McMurtry. But my favorite book of all time is “Red Sky at Morning” by Richard Bradford. I read it through again two days ago in my stomachache haze. I love that book. It’s very New Mexico.
At the request of The Good Man, I’m now reading “A Moveable Feast” by Hemingway. I love to read but I’m not much on classic authors. The Good Man is working on my literary education. He even got me to read another Steinbeck. After “The Grapes of Wrath” I swore I’d never read another Steinbeck.
In return, he’s read “Bless Me Ultima” by Rudolpho Anaya and he’s currently working on “Red Sky at Morning” (it was a deal, I’d read “Cannery Row” and he had to read “Red Sky at Morning.”)
I’m very fond of my Fat Baby boots. They make me ridiculously happy.
I am blessed to have a very small selection of very, very good friends. I met my best friend back in 1988. We can never part ways. We know too much dirt about each other. We are the Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid of New Mexico, only with a lot more green chile.
I like to eat. A lot. Lately, I also like to cook, so that works out nicely.
I am a rabid San Francisco Giants baseball fan, no matter how many times they break my heart. Which has been a lot over the course of a lifetime…..
I like to sing off key and loudly in the confines of my car. I’m not ashamed. Not even when I forget that I left the windows open.
I believe laughter the antidote to most of what ails the world. Sometimes I laugh inappropriately. But I always say, “excuse me” when I do.
I will always laugh at a fart joke. I don’t know why. It’s juvenile and uncouth. I don’t care. Fart jokes are funny. There may have been a few over the past week as a stomach ailment provides a lot of…er…fodder.
I have jury duty this week. I wonder if I’ll get called into service? Sometimes, I secretly wish that I get to be on a jury. I’m wildly fascinated by the justice system.
Did I mention I like pie?
Ok, well, there’s obviously a lot more to know, but that’s probably more than enough for now. Stick around for a while, if you want. I’m sure I’ll blurt out more embarrassing facts about myself soon.
If you’ve managed to read all the way through this, well, I thank you.
If you have been reading the blog for a while, good to see you again.
If you are new to my brand of writing, welcome. I look forward to getting to know you.
And now, back to acting like Daffy Duck…
Filed under: chasing cowboys, commuting, country music, family, Fat Babies, friends, homesick, laffs, memories, Mom, Music, New Mexico, NMSU, Opinions, relationships, tradition, wayback machine, where I come from
It was Fall, had to be. Slight crispness to the evening air. Anticipation thick as the fog of Aqua Net in the Chi Omega house.
It was 1989, probably. Or somewhere close to that. The campus of New Mexico State University. I was a sophomore, maybe a junior, I can’t remember. Doesn’t matter.
What does matter is that I was getting ready to go to a dance at Corbett Center.
The woman who would become my best friend for what is now over twenty years was the driving force that night, and many just like it. Her parents had met at a Corbett Center dance, so she was especially incentivized to go scoot a boot and see what’s doing. Family history.
I nervously pulled on my too shiny, too new, gray goatskin round toe ropers and jeans that didn’t really go with the boots, but were at least long enough to be acceptable. “You should buy some Rockies,” I was told, and they were right. I would, later, in quantity. But then I had neither the money nor the courage. I wasn’t sure what I was going to get into, I just knew I was going to be there come hell or high water.
It wasn’t my first Corbett dance. It wouldn’t be my last. This story isn’t about one actual night, more an amalgam of a lot of great nights.
The gaggle of high-haired women walked out the back door of our home, a sorority house containing twenty-eight women of different backgrounds, and one understanding house mom. What bound us together was our choice of educational institution. A land grant institution. To the uninformed, that means an agricultural college.
It was a short shuffle over to Corbett, up the stairs to the third floor where they had the ballrooms. Pay the entrance fee. Five dollars I think? Maybe less back then. Get a stamp on your hand. Look around, see who is there already. Talk about who you hope shows up.
Hear the opening strains of music. Usually The Delk Band. A group of musicians, brothers, and their dad on fiddle. I went to school with most of the boys. I remember one of the Delks was cute. I remember one of the Delks was the drummer and back then had a tendency to speed up the tempo as a song wore on. Hard to dance to a wildly varying tempo. But we did it.
They were our people, and we embraced them. And we danced. Oh did we dance.
The two-step. Not the Texas double up kind, no. The slow kind, keeping time to the music.
And a waltz. My favorite, how I love to waltz. The rhythm of waltz-timed music still beats my heart a little differently.
The polka. If done right with the right boy (he had to be tall because I’m tall and otherwise we’d just bump knees) you felt like you were flying, feet hardly touching the ground.
The ladies, my friends and I, would stand on the sidelines and take a look at the scene. My best friend would always get asked to dance first. She’s beautiful and a great dancer. Who could blame the boys for flocking to her blue-eyed, dark haired gorgeousness? Not me, for sure.
As I got better at dancing, I got asked often enough, too. The boys liked the girls who could dance, who liked to dance, who didn’t turn up their nose at dirty fingernails and cow sh*t on their boots.
There is something special about dancing with a boy who knows how to dance, a strong lead, who looked you in the eyes while we danced. The boys who had the right fold in their hat and smelled faintly of Copenhagen and beer and Polo cologne.
I got to know those folks. All of them, the boys, the girls, the dancers, the musicians, the laughers, the people who liked to swing each other around the dance floor.
They became my family. We traveled in packs, dancing until we were sweaty, then heading outside into the cool air to take a breath, drink a beer, laugh a lot and occasionally find someone to spend a little time with.
Well not me, not then. I was still too awkward and mixed up to attract much in the way of boys at that point. I was more “one of the guys” than one of the girls the guys would chase. Don’t feel bad for me though, I eventually figured it out. (cover your eyes, mom)
Over time, we all aged a little, got to be over 21 and started to migrate from dancing at Corbett center to dancing at the local country bar. It was fun but seemed a little more complicated. Add more than a couple beers to the night and weird things happen.
But still we danced. By that time, I’d moved off campus and lived with my friend from TorC. She was crazy and fun and taught me a lot (cover your eyes, mom), and she loved to dance as much as I did. She coined the phrase “big bar hair” and learned me how to get it, and keep it, despite dancing so hard sweat ran down your face.
Then we all aged a bit more, and we graduated and found respectable jobs. My best friend, her husband (a fine dancer, I must say) and I are all actually employed in the same area that’s listed on our diplomas. One might scoff at country folks, but all three of us hold a Master’s degree in our chosen fields.
Now, on the verge of turning forty, I find I still miss those days, mightily. I wished I’d enjoyed them more at the time. The stress of school and classes and “what do I want to be when I grow up” cast a pall on my days.
My own fault. A worrier by nature, a tendency I fight tooth and nail every single day I take a breath.
When I’m having a bad day, when I doubt myself, when I realize I don’t fit in at my new place of employment, when I don’t feel heard or understood or very well liked, I can always go back to those days in my mind and smile.
I can’t get together with my best friend and her husband and NOT talk about those days. Magical. I’m blessed to have been able to have them. Once upon a time, I knew where I belonged.
(photo found via Google. That is, in fact, Mark Delk and if I’m right, that photo was taken at Dickerson’s Auction Barn…another location for a lot of good nights of dancing….)
This historic journey brought to you by the song “On A Good Night” by Wade Hayes. The song popped up on my iPod set to shuffle during the morning commute. The song itself was burned off a CD while visiting my best good friend in the world just a couple months ago. Damn you Wade for putting me in the wayback machine!
Filed under: cell phones, Fat Babies, iPhone, latent childhood, life, manners, Opinions, pondering, The Good Man, weirdity, work
Or maybe a little self-awareness?
At my place of employment, we have a bank of five elevators that get all us little minions to and from the multitude of floors in our fabulous office building.
Every day I ride in these elevators, and it gives me time to notice some stuff.
Like the fact that the interior of the elevator cars is mirrored. Yup, to a high polish. What this means is each person’s visage is clearly reflected back into the car.
Meaning…if you are standing in the back surreptitiously picking your nose, you are not surreptitious at ALL. We all have to just look forward to see what you are doing back there. You aren’t hiding.
Most people get in there and lock their eyes on the television screen scrolling headline news. You know, the ol’ don’t make eye contact elevator rule.
I sometimes watch the headline news, and have become a repository for useless trivial information that I can whip out at random times to the utter disinterest of The Good Man.
But lately I’ve been watching the show in the reflected doors. People really are odd little creatures.
I’ve caught *numerous* male colleagues checking out the backsides of the comely young ladies who work here. And who can blame them, really?
I’ve also caught quite a few roll eyes or scowls as someone apparently unliked gets on the car.
There are the salespeople on the elevator who try to read the names on people’s badges, I guess perpetually making a sales contact list.
I’ve witnessed some personal grooming that is best left for a private moment.
On Friday, as I got on the elevator and found my spot, I saw the lady to my side and a step back look my Friday casual outfit up and down, roll her eyes, then put her hand to her stomach and smooth it down, as though to assure herself that her midsection was smaller and flatter than mine. It was, she has nothing to worry about.
Evidently people seem to go through life believing, “If I can’t see you, you can’t see me.” Except when your every move is reflected back.
Believe me, I’m all too aware of this little feature of the elevator and make sure to keep my hands away from my nose, my errant underwear or my boiling zit.
I kinda want to put up a sign that says, “Objects in mirror may be you.”
PS Yes, I really did take an iPhone photo in my elevator at work…….don’t think that wasn’t odd to explain to the guy who got on two floors down.
PPS Yes, I’m wearing my kicking Fat Babies to work today. Saaaalute! Since Fat Babies are one of the highest searched keywords on my blog, I figured I’d give them another plug.