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It’s January. The holidays are over. Back to work. Inauguration looms large.
The skies above the Bay Area have turned a familiar shade of mushy gray. Expected for January.
When the marine layer isn’t in, it’s frosty cold. When the marine layer is in, it’s torrential. Standing pools of water soak my socks. Windshield wipers can’t keep up. The kind of rain that terrifies a New Mexican until she remembers that Bay Area drainage systems were meant to handle this kind of water. Mostly.
January feels dreary, but there is hope on the horizon. There is a break in the gray.
You see, this past weekend my favorite grocer featured unopened daffodil blooms. I scooped them up and ran home with my trophy.
I love daffodils because they remind me of what’s to come.
First come the daffodils with their buttery yellow optimism. Then almond and cherry blossoms create their own snowfall of fragrant petals. Then tulips in every color you can imagine. Finally colors and flowers of every sort jostle for the gentle rays of warm Spring sun.
I am a child of Spring and Spring is on the road, making its way back home to me. It returns with the dogged determination of a lost love.
Within my pile of hope and anticipation bought at the grocery store, there was a special stem. It made me a promise. Silent and steady.
A promise made.
A promise in progress.
A promise kept.
Now ain’t that something to get excited about?
All photos ©Copyright 2017, Karen Fayeth. Taken with an iPhone6, the Camera+ App, patience and anticipation. Subject to the Creative Commons license on the right column of this page.
Filed under: anxiety, Autumn, awkward, Be Better!, business is business, cranky, curious, Dad, disappointed, don't want!, doooooom!, doubts, friends, gallows humor, gratitude, growing up, hey kids get off my lawn, I ain't as good as I once was, irritated, kerfuffle, kids these days, lactose intolerance, latent childhood, lazy, learning, life, make it work, melancholy, memories, miscellany, nostalgia, Opinions, overwhelmed, parenting, peculiar, people are people, play through, pondering, scared, self esteem issues, sensitive girl, sigh, signs, sports, truth is stranger than..., weirdity, worried, yucky
“Practice makes perfect,” they say and, “If you do something for 10,000 hours then you will be a master.”
Well, horse hockey is my answer to that.
If the delineator for adulthood is the age of 18, then I have put in a solid 236,682 hours at this craft, and I still haven’t figure out how to be a master.
In fact, I may be worse at it than ever.
Sure, I get up in the morning and I go to work and I make a paycheck and I pay my taxes and I usually vote and I have insurance and a 401k and even a will. All the trappings of being a grown up.
But I still would rather have cookies for dinner and silly cereal for breakfast. I still throw little tantrums when things don’t go my way. I still need naps and need to believe in Santa and I still want to play with toys and fly kites and occasionally I just need to melt down.
I can pay my taxes but the very thought of buying a house terrifies me. I can make decisions that impact millions of dollars at my job and then sometimes can’t decide if I want orange or lime flavored candy at the store. Then I buy and eat both and cry because my tummy hurts.
This thing, this adulthood, it doesn’t get easier.
And hell, I don’t even know where the border lies, the place I can cross safely and know for sure I have arrived into adulthood.
Some might say it happens when you have kids. Fair play, I guess. But I have a lot of friends with kids that I wouldn’t call the model citizens for grownup-itude.
When my dad died, that probably was the closest for me in knowing what it means to be an adult. I grew up pretty fast when, for better or worse, that was thrust upon me.
But even that wasn’t enough to be the final frontier for me. (mmm, Frontier. I could go for a cinnamon roll right about now)
This past month some things happened with my “lady guts” that signaled the beginning of a long journey. When a woman’s life turns from the dog days of summer into Autumn.
Discretion keeps me from going through all of the gory details, no one needs all of that. While I’m far too young for the “main event,” my body has let me know that the pre-game show has started and the players are starting to take the field. (nothing like a sports metaphor to describe a lady issue….)
I’m not ready for this. I’m not grown up enough for this. I’m not an adult! I have put in the hours, many hours of long grueling practice and still…still I find myself at this age and at this earthly turning of a season far from being an expert at adulthood. I am jack of many aspects and master of none.
Maybe that is okay. Maybe that is what being an adult is about, the continually wondering if you are “grown upping” correctly. Paying taxes and eating ice cream sundaes with reckless abandon (while popping Lactaid, because that’s a mature thing to do).
And on my next bubblegum ice cream sundae, I will be decisive enough to get both nuts AND sprinkles on top.
Because I’m young enough to want them both and old enough to pay for it.
So there. Take that! This is how I’m doing grown up and no one can make me do it differently!
Nanny nanny boo boo on you!
Adults are always asking kids what they want to be when they grow up because they are looking for ideas.
— Paula Poundstone
Image found here.
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The other day at the ol’ place of employment, I had an early meeting at another site and then came back to my particular office building, which meant parking on the top level of the parking garage. Ugh.
Early on with this parking garage, I made myself promise that no matter where I parked, I would take the stairs to get to my car. No elevators. Just a little extra exercise in the day. So when I get here early, I have one flight of stairs. When I get here late, I have five. That’s how the ol’ cookie crumbles.
So after starting really early in the day at an off site meeting and then running like my hair was on fire in the office all day long (gigantic project brewing with very hard deadlines and a press conference to announce it coming up too!) I was pretty dead tired at the end of the day.
I stood at the bottom up the steps looking up mournfully. Five flights? After the day I had? I was determined to keep my promise to myself and I lifted heavy legs up and up and up the stairs.
Around the fourth floor I started feeling gassed. Each step felt harder than the last. It felt like gravity was actively defying me with every lift of my knees. Finally, exhausted and sucking oxygen I made it to the top floor, stumbled to my car and flopped inside.
That last flight really got to me. As I stepped, I had the kind of pondering thoughts that my brain often makes to keep me entertained. Were those last steps so difficult because my leg muscles were wearing out over the sum total of steps? Or does it become harder to slip the surly bonds of gravity with each flight? Or some combination of both?
And that struggle, that last mile difficulty, well, it started to feel like a metaphor. For my job. I am (to use yet another metaphor) rounding third base on this gigantic project and certainly headed for home plate, but this last leg of the journey is proving to be the most difficult.
Here’s another metaphor. I can see the summit of this mountain, but the last 1,000 steps are straight uphill with no room or time to rest. Each day feels a little harder. Each moment is fraught with worry.
In about two weeks I will summit this sumnabitch and I will be glad I did. In a few months I will look back and it won’t seem all that bad. But right now, looking up, knowing I am so close but knowing all that I have to endure to get to the other side, it feels daunting.
It feels like gravity actively puling me down, down, further toward the ground. Yeah, climbing five flights of steps feels like a metaphor, and not a bad metaphor at that.
But what good is the metaphor? I still have to climb the steps. I still have to complete the journey. And I have not get so focused on the pain and agony and effort of each step that I forget to remember home and the loving arms of The Good Man wait on the other side.
It’s worth climbing those steps if only because it means I’m one step closer to him. What is a difficult journey without a meaningful destination?
Image found here.
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Part IV in a series.
There are a lot of times during my days, walking through this world, where I have small flashbacks or quick images that come into my brain. Not a hallucination, just a snapshot of a moment or a place or person.
A lot of the time the photostream of my brain shows me something about New Mexico. Some little atom or quark that is a building block of who I am. Meant to ground me, I think.
One image that seems to show up on rotation is being in either Old Town Albuquerque or at the Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe and buying beautiful handmade jewelry from the Native American artisans who display their wares on beautiful blankets.
Heck, in the early days (like the 1970’s) you would also find Native American artisans selling beautiful jewelry at the airport in Albuquerque. This was well before anyone called it a Sunport.
On this trip I made to Santa Fe at the end of last month, one thing I definitely wanted to do was see the Palace of the Governors and visit the row of Native American artisans with hand woven blankets laid out, selling handcrafted jewelry. I can remember being a fairly young kid and negotiating for beautiful pieces of silver, turquoise and coral.
The one moment I remember most was being something like nine or ten and using my allowance money to buy a really pretty green malachite ring set in silver.
I remember that the artisan was dressed in traditional Navajo clothing with her hair wrapped in leather and a huge and gorgeous turquoise bracelet on her arm. She either didn’t speak much English or chose not to. She was quite stoic, I recall, but I had watched my mom buy jewelry so I emulated her way, right down to the speech pattern.
I found the ring, tried it on, and liked it very much. I caught the artisan’s eye, held up the ring and asked, “How much?” I think she said ten dollars. I replied, “Would you take eight?” and she nodded. Thus, I now owned a beautiful handmade silver ring.
I wore it for many, many years.
In fact, I still have it.
This is it:
The ring is so tiny, it barely fits on my pinky finger. As you can see, the stone has a small nick. I really did wear this ring everyday for a long time. I loved it. I still love it.
So on that sunny Spring day on the Plaza a few weeks ago, after stuffing ourselves to the gills at the India Palace buffet, I was ready to walk around and my best friend and her girls were ready to sit.
They found a bench in the bustling center of the Plaza and I walked with purpose to the line of artisans with their creations on blankets.
My heart raced a little because I was excited. I mentally calculated how much cash I had on hand and what budget I would allow. I love beautiful silver and turquoise jewelry.
I had heard a few years back that there was some controversy about people who were not of Native American heritage selling jewelry on the Plaza, so I wasn’t sure what I expected.
I was pleased to see that indeed, the majority of the artisans seemed to be Native American. They wore modern dress, but the look, the speech pattern, the very vibe of the artisans let me know these were my New Mexico Native people, and I was happy.
As I walked down the row, I became less happy.
The quality of the jewelry I saw was not what I had hoped. The beautiful hand crafted chunky silver and turquoise, coral, jade and malachite jewelry had given way to items that were cheap looking, manufactured not handcrafted, meager and not bold and beautiful.
In some cases, I half expected to pick up a piece and see a stamp showing me it was manufactured in another country.
To be honest, not even the blankets seemed to be handmade. The image, the memory, it all looked the same as I crossed the street, but under the adobe and vigas of the Palace, everything really had changed.
On the plus side, I noticed that the artisans were very friendly with all of the tourists, inviting them to pick up pieces and try them on. Asking where they were from and how they liked New Mexico. The stoic artisan seems to be a thing of the past as I’m sure being a bit friendly sells more items. Even as I type that it feels a little like selling out.
So there was a plus and a minus to the experience. I ended up buying a pair of earrings from a vendor across the street on the plaza. They are small inexpensive dragonflies and I hold no illusions that they are genuine Native handcrafted.
I walked away a bit depressed and I remembered that I get a catalog from Southwest Indian Foundation, and they call the style of jewelry that I love “pawn style.”
Pawn style. There were some people that I knew who got really amazing deals on Native American crafted jewelry from the rows and rows of pawn shops in Gallup and other New Mexico towns. I never did that. I shopped a few times, but couldn’t get over the sad feeling in my gut. These pieces of jewelry were given up because someone needed fast money.
As I made a loop around the Santa Fe Plaza, I saw a shop that claimed to have old pawn jewelry, so I went inside.
They weren’t kidding. Inside the huge retail space half of the store was quite literally filled with pawn jewelry. The shop buys dead items (meaning the time has expired and no one was able to come back and claim the pieces) and resells them.
Resells them at a gigantic markup.
I found a case full of earrings and at a quick glance found three pairs that I either own the exact pair or something very, very similar.
Earrings that I know I paid somewhere between fifteen and forty dollars for were now marked anywhere from $125 to over $200.
I felt a little sick to my stomach. On the one hand I thought, “Hell, I should get out all of my old jewelry and sell it!” and of course I knew I’d never part with it. On the other hand my heart broke as progress has to come to all things, even Native American jewelry.
In my personal collection is my mother’s stunning New Mexico Native American handcrafted squash blossom necklace. Would I ever sell this? Hell no.
This is a really profound piece of jewelry. My mother often wore it and she was always beautiful wearing it, too. The turquoise is quite rough and each individual squash blossom is different, to match the stone.
But I wish I could have strolled the Palace of the Governors and seen pieces more like that chunky squash blossom for sale. The product of training, silversmithing, craftsmanship, and a deep Native American tradition.
Alas no, like that hammered tin clock that used to hang over the Albuquerque Airport, my memories are only nostalgia. Museum pieces. They no longer represent what is meaningful for today’s children growing up in New Mexico.
I guess I understand now. Sometimes as a kid I used to jokingly say that New Mexico was forgotten, wasn’t important, backward. Now I know it really was something good. I got to grow up in a beautiful culture and a beautiful state that is like nowhere else in the world.
I am hardly the only person who has ever come to realize this about the time and place that they were born and raised. It’s a common lesson. You really can never go back. I can be in New Mexico again, and I can love it, but it’s never going to be what I hold in my memories.
That hurts inside. I yearn for something that doesn’t really exist anymore, except in my mind and have to find a way to be okay with that. As of today, right this moment, I’m not okay. Not yet.
I suppose the answer is that I need to spend more time back home in New Mexico. I have to learn to know what she was once and love her as she is now.
It’s my failure that it’s been so long since I was back home. I hope to improve a lot over the coming years.
There is so much I know about New Mexico, and so much I have left to learn.
Up next, the conclusion: Part V, The Roots of My Raising Run Deep
Images Copyright © 2014 Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons license in the right column of this page. Taken with an iPhone5 and the Camera+ app.
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Inside of me there are dueling issues, and year by year it’s a balancing act to see which wins out.
On one end of this see-saw is the fact that I love the holidays. Yes, I actually do. From Halloween to Valentine’s Day I revel in every holiday with childlike glee. I often grumble (and will again this year, stay tuned to this blog) about the holidays when they are in full swing, but the truth is that when I’m into it I adore every holiday and all of its traditions.
“When I’m into it,” ah and there’s the trouble.
For the past several years I have been cranky as heck about the holidays because I was working so many hours I had no idea what week it was much less what season. In my last role, I was on so many calls across so many time zones and traveling so much I wasn’t even sure of my own name most days.
So when the holidays rolled around in the past, I was not ready. I wasn’t prepared because I hadn’t had time to plan out what I wanted to do, and I was mad that I had lost so many days at the hands of a dull corporate entity.
All of that just made me angry at the holidays for showing up when I couldn’t participate.
But things have changed a bit. I’m in this new job and while I am still busy, it isn’t quite as bad as it has been for me over the past several years. My new employer definitely takes note of the months and what is going on. In this job, we pause to reflect and it makes such a huge difference.
Also, now that I live in a university town I’m much more aware of the time of year, ranging from school’s out and it’s summer to Fall football games.
I have already warned my darling Good Man to watch out, I’m officially “into it” this year. Oh yes, there will be cookies, and decorations, and costumes and more. I will probably even decorate my cubicle at work this month. There are prizes for Halloween décor!
At first I was quite resistant to the coming of Autumn, but now I am reveling in it. That said, I still have not imbibed a pumpkin spice latte.
Yesterday morning I set out for work, smiling at the beauty of the Indian Summer sunrise here in the Bay Area.
I walked to my car that was parked out in front of my building and I saw something tucked into the door handle on the driver’s side.
At first (from a distance) I thought it was another ding-dang parking ticket. But no, that would have been tucked under my windshield wiper. Then I thought it was a note someone left because they’d bashed my car. No, turns out it wasn’t that either.
Then I let my mind wander and I remembered back to when I was in college at NMSU. For a little while I dated this rather dashing cowboy who happened to have something of a romantic streak and a poet’s heart.
Every now and then he’d leave a little love note on my car when I was in class. To be honest, I still have those notes somewhere in a box of mementos.
I grinned a little as I thought maybe I had a secret admirer. A furtive love.
It turns out that it’s true, I do have a special beau.
Yesterday I received the most lovely (yet crispy) mash note from endlessly romantic Nature.
Thank you beautiful Autumn for the reminder that I need to get outside a bit more and roll in the leaves and smile at the early setting sun.
All of these years I’ve just sort of ignored you as you passed me by, but not this year. Today I return your affection, my glorious orange and red and brown Fall.
I am your secret admirer too!
Image Copyright 2013, Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons license in the right corner of this page. Taken with an iPhone5 and the Camera+ app.