2010 July : Oh Fair New Mexico

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by Karen Fayeth

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?”

Wha?

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.

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.

Well.

Yuck.

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.

Nope.

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.

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.

Gah!

But cloudy skies sure make pretty pictures.

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

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.

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

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.

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