2013 February : Oh Fair New Mexico

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by Karen Fayeth

I Keep Looking Over My Shoulder

I think I’m being stalked. I’m not sure how to prove it or what to do about it but I am pretty sure I’m totally being followed. By an otherwordly entity.

I have shouted “what do you want?!?!” but the face of the man following along remains passive, as if my shouts are lost to the cosmos.

This stalker goes by a few names, but we’ll go with Man in the Moon for the sake of ease and understanding. MITM keeps showing up everywhere lately, getting real close and glowy.

In the small morning hours when I head out to work, he’s there, peering over the hills and looking quite chilly yet magnetic. As I ride the train, he rides along but fades away as I get closer to work.

In the evenings as I drive home, he’s there hanging low on the horizon looking quite handsome. The evening attire is more of a warm and inviting yellow tone. He hangs out over the Bay and turns the tips of saltwater waves a golden amber. They wave as if beckoning me to dive in.

I try to ignore his intense gaze and then take a sharp curve in the road. For a moment I think he’s gone but then voop! there he is again, a little less bigger-than-life when taken from that angle but still there staring down at me with persistence.

I thought it was just a couple coincidences, but I’m pretty sure that the moon is chasing me. And maybe flirting with me too, just a little.

For all the world that big shining Snow Moon looks just like a gigantic cosmic Snickerdoodle.

He’s so charming, I just might take a bite.

———

Now tell me this doesn’t look like a snickerdoodle.



The full Moon as seen in Japan on Feb. 25, 2013. Credit and copyright: Masashi Ito.





Photo from Universe Today.




And Around. And Around. And Around.

While sitting on my tuchus being completely idle this weekend (yay!) I flicked through my Twitter stream to get caught up on what is happening out there in Interwebs land.

I came across a tweet from Penn Jillette (one half of the famous duo Penn and Teller) that said, and I quote:

“You might not want to watch this. You really might not. It’s kinda sorta dangerous funny. It hurts. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpfQSqfpuac

(if you are feeling like a laugh, go on and do a click for yourself).

So because I love and trust Penn and I needed a laugh, I clicked the link. What I found was a Taylor Swift video for the song “I Knew You Were Trouble” and in some of the high wailing parts, someone had substituted a bleating goat for the vocals.

I watched it three times. It was indeed very funny.

Just for the sake of reference, I then watched the actual video from Taylor Swift for “I Knew You Were Trouble” (well most of it anyway) and as I watched her writhing around in the dirt, I wondered to myself who this song had been written about.

It’s fairly well known that Ms. Swift likes to write such songs about broken romances. A quick Google search led me to the answer. Mr. Trouble turns out to be Harry Styles from the Brit pop boy band One Direction.

Now, as an over forty year old woman, Mr. Styles doesn’t look like an ounce of trouble to me, but I suppose I understand where she’s coming from. Who among us ladies hasn’t written pages and pages of journal entries about a romance gone wrong and maybe even some bad poetry too? I certainly have, I just didn’t have the platform that Ms. Swift enjoys for such endeavors. But I totally support her right to say what’s on her mind and be super angsty about it too.

So now that I knew Harry Styles of One Direction (by the way, doesn’t Hairy Styles sound like an awesome name for a barber shop?) was the object of this sad song, I recalled that my kid sister-in-law (not so much a kid anymore, she’s 13, it’s a long story) absolutely looooves One Direction, though her affections tend to lean toward one Mr. Liam Payne.

Then I noticed that YouTube suggested that after watching the Taylor Swift video I should watch the super hot OMG hot hot brand new song from One Direction called “One Way”.

“Why not?” I thought and gave it a click.

What presented itself to me was a video of five boys who probably aren’t old enough to have pubes singing a bee-boppy rendition of the kick ass Debbie Harry song “One Way or Another” from 1979.

You know? “One way or another, I’m going to find ya’/I’m gonna get ya’, get ya’, get ya’, get ya’/One way or another, I’m gonna win ya”

(To all whom I’ve just earwormed, I do apologize. It couldn’t be helped.)

So as these boys wriggled and mugged their way across London, I felt a sadness in my heart. I emitted a sorrowful sigh.

The tough as brass song written by the beautiful and punk rock Debbie Harry is now being autotuned and smoothed up for a boy band. The catchy lyrics written in the wake of a stalking ex-boyfriend are now fodder for little girl swoons and cutesy thoughts of dating a One Direction lad.

Oh boy. Er. Boys? If the song had been redone and there was a new or original take, then by all means go for it. I am not against remakes, I am, however, against remakes that take the soul out of a great song.

Certainly Ms. Debbie Harry, as the co-writer of the song is enjoying much windfall from the pop redo of her music, but damn. It hurts just a little, in my soul.

Later over breakfast, The Good Man and I discussed this song and video since it was still very much on my mind.

“I suppose it shouldn’t bother me that teens are listening to this crap because I listened to some poppy boy bands in my era. Like, for instance, Duran Duran,” I said.

But then I realized something…yes, Duran Duran was a schlocky boy band and yes I swooned over the poster I had of the five of them on my bedroom wall (John was my favorite) but at least they 1) actually played their own instruments and 2) wrote many of their own songs.

Ok, yes, fine, I know that remaking songs is a common occurrence and in some cases, the remake is WAY better than the original (Hendrix’s “All Along The Watchtower” for example). I also know that in the history of music there have been hundreds of over engineered boy (and girl) acts doing their soulless little dance with deadened eyes and walking down a life map that probably leads to either ultra-thumping-Christianity or deep and abiding drug use…or both. And I know I can’t stop it, nor should I try.

But I also can’t help seizing up a little whenever I hear great music so profoundly bastardized.

My thirteen year old sister-in-law is actually an excellent musician in her own right and I have to trust that over time she will learn to see that you can have both quality music written and played by the musican AND a hot guy to look at. Jim Morrison springs to mind, but let’s see if I can come up with someone more current….I know, how about Bruno Mars or even Jason Mraz?

Losing argument, I know. As long as there are dollars in auto tuning them thar children, the shlock pop is always going to keep coming around.




Shaddup Grandma! One Direction is the best band ever!




Image from the spydersden blog




What a World

I had a really good day yesterday. An exceptionally good day. Really top notch, if I do say so myself.

I belong to a group of professionals who do the same kind of work that I do. Internet modesty causes me to decline to state. Suffice to say, it’s not like I’m a part of the Action Hero Institute or Society of Scientists Doing Cool Stuff. For the sake of ease of this post, let’s call what I do paper shuffling.

This group has some meetings and they fund their cause by offering training courses in the various aspects and disciplines within the paper shuffling profession.

A few years ago they put out a call for instructors and I threw my hat in the ring. Back in 2010 I conducted my first training class, a four hour session. This was my first time teaching a course and 80+ slides and four hours of talking seemed daunting. I was as nervous as I’d been in a long time (pit stains reminiscent of passing my boards for my MBA) but I ended up having a really good experience.

Recently, the Paper Shuffling Professionals of America asked me to come back and teach again. I agreed and that queasy nervousness set in right away. I pulled up the PowerPoint deck I had used back in 2010 and said aloud, “hey…this is pretty good.”

I had a class of fifteen souls yesterday who actually paid money to listen to me yammer on for four hours about the art and science of paper shuffling.

It was such a great group, though. They were fun and interactive and even seemed to laugh at a good portion of my humor. Teaching the class didn’t give me pit stains this time, the hours seemed to fly. I ended the class energized as all get out and walking about half a foot off the ground.

I felt, dare I say it, very proud of myself.

As you’ll recall from this blog, I’m the girl who once, as a child, had to have a doctor extract a piñon nut I had shoved up my nose.

I once got a dime up there too. My big sister was able to get that out before the folks caught wind of the situation.

I’m the girl who was following my big brother on a hike in the mountains of Cuba, New Mexico and was trying so hard to keep up that I ran smack into a tree branch and scratched my face.

I’m the girl who wrapped a rubber band around the end of my nose. In the hour before I was to attend a ballet class. How was I to know it would badly bruise and I would be mocked mercilessly by those prissy ballet girls?

In college I once got so lost on the Border Highway I had to go to someone’s home and knock on their door to ask for directions back to Las Cruces (pre-mobile phone days). This was at night. I am still amazed I didn’t get shot.

I cannot add a column of numbers in my head. I cannot tell you which direction is north (I could do it when I had the Sandias as my guide). I often drool when I sleep. I am prone to cursing like a sailor.

And most recently, I am the girl who, just before leaving the house to go to teach a training class, used the rest room and as I flushed I also manged to drop my keys in the toilet. Big important teacher woman leapt into the bowl and held on to them for dear life as the waters rushed by (thankfully it was only a #1 bowlful).

And yet, the Paper Shuffling Professionals of America wanted me to teach a class, and worse yet people paid good money to listen to what I had to say.

What a world, what a world. Who would have thought all my years of hard work would erase my beautiful dorkiness. If only for a moment.






Photo found on The History Bluff.




Am I Missing The Point?

So here at the new place of employ, we have a very nice building to work in. It’s an old warehouse in a now gentrified former industrial district that has been updated with all the conveniences of a modern office.

It’s a pretty nice place to work and probably the nicest of all the buildings my employer leases or rents for us minions.

For the 150 or so people located in this building we have a pretty nice break room that includes fancy steel microwaves, up to the minute toaster oven and even a dishwasher.

And then there is the “coffee system.”

Yes, I said system.

In lieu of a good old glass pot of coffee burning on a hotplate all day, we have two Keurig devices. These devices utilize what are called “K cups” for the brewing of single cups of coffee.

My company only provides the machines and the water. Employees have to bring their own K cups.

My coworkers seem very whipped up and excited about K cup coffee and tea. In order to play along, I went to Safeway and invested in two boxes of (highly overpriced) K cups, one box of coffee, one box of chai tea.

This Keurig machine seems all very futuristic. You put in the plastic K cup, clamp the machine down and press “brew”. The machine whirs quietly and makes important beeping noises then it creates your warm mug of beverage.

Only…couldn’t I just dump the contents of the K cup into a mug, add hot water, stir and have the same results?

That’s when I realized these Keurig people are a bunch of really smart and somewhat evil entrepreneurs. They have employed the Hewlett Packard home printer model to coffee.

The Hewlett Packard model is thus…charge $100 for a small personal printer. Then charge $70 for the ink cartridges to use with the printer. They make a couple bucks off the machine, they make a LOT of bucks off of what they call “consumables” (i.e. something that gets used up and needs to be replaced).

Keurig has done this brilliantly. They have made the end user experience feel special with blue lights and soft whirs and beeps. They make you want to run to that machine and slap in a K cup that runs about a dollar to a dollar fifty each. Starbucks and Bed Bath and Beyond are in on the scam, selling their own versions of K cups.

Meanwhile I’m thinking this is just instant coffee all tarted up in a new way. What really boggles me is the people who “loooove” (<- direct quote) the green tea K cups. Because, ahem, dunking a tea bag in a cup of hot water is just too much work? The name Keurig led me to believe this was a european company (the name is the Dutch word for excellence) and I was going to make some comment about the Euros having one over on us Americans. Then I looked up the company and discovered they are from Massachusetts. That there is some Yankee ingenuity. You brilliant b*stards. I know I'm being hornswaggled and yet I play along anyway. Well done Keurig-onians. Well done.








Image from theburr. Click the link to see how to recycle K cups.




My Awkward Little Canvas

At the end of last month, I attended an artist’s salon hosted by my mentor and photography teacher Marty Springer. At these monthly events, a group of photography students and artists come together to review each other’s work and provide feedback and critique.

The ticket for entry is that you bring a printed photograph for review.

I’ve been feeling pretty unartistic lately, so I went to the salon, but I was unable to bring a print (long story involving the horrific lack of possibilities for serious photographers to have their work printed) and endured the mild chiding from my mentor.

We went forward and had a really good session. The people in this group are fantastically talented.

As we wrapped up Marty issued us a challenge. In addition to teaching, mentoring and being a well-paid professional photographer, she also curates a small gallery at a local public library. This is the venue where we have our annual photography show, and the rest of the year the gallery hosts all manner of art pieces including photos, paintings, mixed media, quilts and more.

Marty told us how she had booked an artist for a show to span the month of February, but he had shown up with all of his pieces so poorly and cheaply framed that they fell off the wall moments after she had hung them. The artist didn’t have the desire to fix his errors, so Marty was left without a show.

This was Sunday night and the show was due to open Thursday.

She told us she wanted to go ahead with an exhibit and we were all invited to contribute. Something was going up on February 1. She spoke to us about February and celebrating Valentines, but more than that, Marty wanted to put a show on the walls that was about love and about healing.

In the wake after the very tense election and then the horrible tragedies in Sandy Hook, Colorado and Oregon, she wanted to have a show that wasn’t all lacy Valentines and light, but something that showed love and strength and healing.

She asked us if we were up to the task. Turns out we were.

I had an immediate idea for a mixed media piece that had been simmering in my mind for a while and seemed perfect for this show. I asked if mixed media was ok since most of the pieces would be photography. She told me not only was mixed media welcomed, but encouraged.

That night I came home, pulled out a blank canvas and gesso’d it (to dry overnight) wondering just how in the HELL I was going to get this done in time. At that point I was two weeks into a new job and still adjusting to a pretty long commute. My hours of free time for working on art were pretty severely limited, but I wanted to try.

This meant I had to edit myself A LOT. I guess watching all the seasons of “Project Runway” had put that thought in my head. “Edit yourself,” I kept saying as I wanted to add more, embellish more, get more complicated and advanced in the few hours I had to complete this piece.

If I was going to make it in time, this needed to be simple, quiet and powerful.

On Wednesday night, only two days after I started the piece, I turned in a mixed media canvas with glue and varnish still a bit damp. My mentor gasped and danced a little when she saw it.




It’s a bit hard to see, but the canvas is actually ripped through, then closed up with thread and staples.


I was so very unsure about turning in this piece because it felt a little…intimate…to be sharing with the world. There is a lot of me in that canvas. Also, other than a county fair a couple years back, I hadn’t exhibited any of my art pieces and showing my creations to anyone other than The Good Man makes me a bit shy.

As I handed it over, I could only see all of the many errors I needed to fix. If only there was time. My nerve began to waver, but I relinquished my canvas to my mentor with the belief she’d find the right place for it in her exhibit.

This past weekend The Good Man and I finally got a chance to get over to the gallery to see my little humble canvas. I almost cried. She found a great spot for my piece and it flows into the show really well. It both stands out and blends in.

It is so very gratifying to see my little mended heart hanging proudly on a gallery wall.




Side note: No wonder the cartoon I posted for Valentine’s Day got to me so deeply! This idea of a broken and repaired heart has been on my creative brain for a while now.

Much gratitude to The Good Man, the great State of New Mexico, The Crafty Chica for the inspiration and know-how.

Photo and canvas are both Copyright 2013, Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons license in the right column of this page. Photo taken with an iPhone5 and the Camera+ app.




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