Funky Tut*

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*With all due homage to the Steve Martin classic. “He gave his life for tourism.”

This past weekend, while my best girlfriend was in town, the three of us (The Good Man, The Friend, and me) went over to San Francisco’s De Young museum to see the King Tut exhibition.

This marked a 30-year anniversary for the De Young, as they also showed King Tut artifacts back in 1979. I remember the hubbub about Tut back in the day (and listened to the Steve Martin song on the album owned by my big brother).

Of course, the Tut traveling show never made it anywhere near New Mexico, so I was pretty psyched to see it this go ’round.

In short, it was amazing. I would love you show you photographs, a drawing, a pencil sketch, my notes or ANYTHING from that visit, but all of that is prohibited. *sigh*

After the exhibit, the three of us headed over to the historic Japanese Tea Garden located next door to the De Young, and while sipping tea in quiet surroundings, we talked about the Tut exhibit and our impressions.

Here’s where my train of thought was headed…..

Ok, so this whole funerary thing…they create these surroundings to make it nice for the person in the afterlife. There are chairs and other furniture, cosmetics, hair care items (gotta look good), and clothing. Favored toys, games, and pets also included.

Basically, all the stuff the deceased liked so they would have a happy, restful afterlife.

And so, with this in mind, I determined my tomb would be, on the inner sanctum, a replica of the red couch, with a fine yet tubby statute of my Feline at my side, or rather, on my legs.

And cheesy poofs. Lots and lots of cheesy poofs (I’m thinking they can use carnelian to properly capture the vibrant orange cheesiness).

My friend pointed out that we had to work out my regal name. As the Egyptian royalty ascended to leadership, their name was changed.

As we learned in the exhibit, the naming convention is something like:

A personal identifier + a word like “life” or “peace” or whatever + name of your preferred god

Thus:

Tut + Ankh (means “life”) + Amun (the diety)

Tutankhamun

And so my name would have to be something like:

Ka + Ankh + Cheesy Poof (cuz I revere the Cheeto)

Kaankhcheesypoof

And yet, we also realized that sometimes, on the cartouche, the name is actually represented in the other direction.

Thus making my name

Poofcheeseyankhka

Ok.

Now we’re cooking.

Also, in the funerary tomb, there are these little figurines placed about. They are called shabti, and their whole gig is to be the servants for the deceased in the afterlife. So, like, if there is manual labor to be done, the shabti have to step up.

Well, I thought on it, and then was all like, “you know, I think my shabti should be all my bad bosses through the years….put those b*stards to work for ME!”

Like opening fresh bags of cheesy poofs and going on beer runs. Stuff like that.

The Good Man and The Friend were *way* in favor of this idea.

However, the more I thought on it, the more I realized I don’t really want all of those bad bosses to hang out with me for all eternity. The good bosses (there have been plenty) are welcome, but why would I want the yuck around? We want a happy afterlife.

So what I need instead is a jar like this one (that we saw at the exhibit).

See, the tiger on top represents Tut…so on mine it would be…uh…a sloth. Anyhow, so there the sloth lays, all smug looking, and then at the bottom would be carved heads of my former oppressors managers (see the photo, heads of Tut’s enemies are found at the foot of the jar).

Instead, my shabti can just be really cool but hardworking people who, like, want to shag glasses of lemonade and make guacamole and are willing to get up a game of softball every now and again.

Ok, so we’ve got a good start on this whole afterlife plan….

Now I need to find someone to begin carving images of me. I need to be depicted throughout the years. I’m thinking all this carving and painting and gilding might take a while.

That’s ok, I can wait. Also, I’d like them not to take my brain out through my nose if we can at all avoid it, mmmkay?

What do you get for the girl…

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…who wandered away from home, and might be a little bit lost?

This weekend my best friend arrived, and it couldn’t have happened at a better time.

Lately, I’ve been, yes, a little bit lost. Been thrown off my center of gravity and unable to get myself back right.

The Good Man has been a champ in propping me up, rubbing my shoulders, sending me back out there for the fight.

I keep swinging. And keep getting knocked down.

Then that great gal I described last week, the one who has been in my court for twenty plus years shows up…back up troops, you might say.

And from her roller bag, she pulls out some completely unexpected presents for my belated birthday.

In the presents, she had this (pardon the iPhone photo fuzziness):

That gift was the idea of my two goddaughters (her kids).

“Open it, friend,” she said, “and take a whiff.”

At first I thought it was some sort of unknown-to-me spice. But I was wrong.

I opened. I inhaled.

Inside that little canning jar, hauled on a plane all the way from New Mexico, was a little sprig of creosote.

“Smells like rain,” she said. She was right.

“Smells like home,” I said, and had to blink really fast so I didn’t dissolve into a huge puddle right there on the red couch.

Perception is a funny thing

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As one part of the work I do, I have the honor of managing a group of ten people who run a help desk. They do phone and email support for people both inside and outside the company.

If you’ve ever worked a help desk, or known someone who has, you know that it’s really not a very rewarding job.

And to do it well is a major feat.

The team I work with was so well put together by my predecessor that I could sometimes weep at how lucky I am to step into a help desk team that hums.

Sadly, most of the people who work the help desk are contractors, and sort of viewed as the “lowest form of life” around here. People treat my team like their personal admins. Like they are dumb. And often worse.

But these folks endure, provide great support, and I’m proud to heck to be affiliated with them.

When I arrived, once they sniffed me out and decided I was ok, they gave me a hoodie sweatshirt that had our team’s name and logo embroidered into it. The median age of the helpdesk is like 25 years old, so the hoodies make them happy.

The one they gave me is like three sizes too big and makes me look like the unibomber. So of course I rather enjoy wearing it over my work clothes on these cold San Francisco summer days. It’s toasty, and plus I like identifying as part of my team.

This afternoon, wearing my hoodie, I went down to the first floor for a fro-yo break. While I was waiting for the elevators, I found myself standing with a group of executives from the European company that just acquired my own.

Four men, all in *very* sharp suits, middle aged, Caucasian, rich.

They looked me over, saw my sweatshirt, and gave me that warm-eyed condescending smile you give your grandmother when she tells you to have another slice of her over-salted, undercooked apple pie.

So at first I got a little ticked. I was thinking, “I should tell those rich fat bastards that I’m a senior manager and they shouldn’t be so quick to judge! I bet those d’bags don’t do any real work! My team works their collective ass off and you sit up there on the twentieth floor deciding who gets to keep their job and who doesn’t, while you cash your bonus check and drink Cristal out of your Mercedes!”

In other words, as they were judging me, I was judging them right back. Judging them from the top of their perfectly coiffed heads, right down to the cuff of their perfectly creased dark blue pinstripe suit pants. Yup.

They may have been looking down at me, but I was looking down at them right back. And we were all wrong in our assessments.

That knife pleat cuts both ways, now doesn’t it?

Music, sweet music, to my ears

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“The green chile harvest should begin in earnest in the next two to three weeks, said Stephanie Walker, extension vegetable specialist at New Mexico State University.”

“As long as the weather keeps cooperating, we’re going to have an excellent, excellent crop.”

Oh yes.

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Another time, another place

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: Cue the wavy lines : Today we’re headed down memory lane.

The year was 1988. Hmm…I believe we’re talking Fall semester of school? My memory is often weak. If so, then the month would have been August, or maybe September.

It was warm, I remember that. Then again, it’s always warm in Las Cruces.

I was a student at New Mexico State University. Enrolled in the College of Business.

I was also a member of a social sorority. Yes, now it can be told. Me, I was a sorority girl. Though it didn’t mean what you think of when you think of that stereotype.

NMSU is a different sort of college and the group I belonged to wasn’t your typical sort of sorority. But yes, it can’t be denied. I’m a sorority girl. My husband never thought he’d end up with a sorority girl. I never thought I’d end up with an ROTC guy. Things change…

I had only joined the group just the semester before. It was all pretty new to me. But summer was ending and it was time to engage in “rush”, that every semester ritual whereby you try to convince new people to join (new members, the lifeblood of any organization).

We had to practice for days. Learning songs, doing skits, working on conversation skills, coming up with party theme ideas. Figuring out how to be little drone salespeople, I realize now, in my later years.

So we’d line up, white Keds sparkling in the New Mexico sunshine, shorts perfectly creased, hair teased impossibly high. We were a’twitter with anticipation about meeting the new young ladies who would come to our house to learn about us, and our particular sorority.

They would gather on the front walk and we’d run out, do some awkward singing on the lawn, then select one of the girls, cut her from the herd and bring her inside.

From there, we’d engage in some banal conversation for about ten minutes. Then with the subtle cue, we’d “switch partners” and go on to the next girl, engage is similar inane conversation, and on and on. So it went.

At the end of the day, we’d compare notes and decide who we wanted to invite back the next day.

So on that fateful day back in 1988, the theme of the party was somehow something Jamaican. We’d adapted the words to Bob Marley’s “One Love” to fit in things about our sorority (a travesty, if there ever was one).

For reasons I can’t explain, yards and yards of camouflage netting had been hung from the ceilings in the house…to really bring in that tropical feel?

Being the well-behaved drone, I lined up, I ran outside, I sang, I selected, and dragged this poor young lady into the house.

Her name was Kathleen.

She was extraordinarily tall, dark hair, face full of charming freckles, and the brightest blue eyes in the world.

At six feet all, she had to spend the day ducked under that low hanging camo net, but was a good sport about it. She was a little shy, but we hit it off. We saw the world in a similar way, and I really thought she was cool. Her mom had been a member of the same sorority, what they call “a legacy,” so she was pretty odds on to make the cut.

Ten minutes passed fast, and I moved on, reluctantly. Later, in the voting round, I gave her a big thumbs up, as did all the others.

She soon joined, became “a pledge” and I got to know her more. We became distant friends, she ran pretty thick with the girl who was my roommate. They did everything together. But we were friends and always got along.

The story goes on at some length from here. Too much to tell, really.

I’ll fast forward a bit. A couple years later, some adversity hit Kathleen’s life. Hard. Big. Overwhelming. In a bid to deal with a pending breakdown, she did some stuff that made sense in the mind of youth. Some crazy sh*t that seemed like a big deal at the time, but in my now grown up eyes, looks incredibly not even noteworthy.

Because of all of that, she lost a lot of friends back then. People with small minds who didn’t want to understand. People who maybe weren’t really friends to begin with.

But through all that, she didn’t lose me.

In fact, that adversity she struggled through moved us from being pretty good friends to rock solid life-long best friends. 99.999% of the fun I’ve had up until I met The Good Man is directly attributable to her. Pretty much every wayback machine moment I have written about on this site, she was either there or more likely was the catalyst.

A lot has gone on in the twenty-plus years since. We both graduated, grew up, became actual adults, all against our will.

Tomorrow evening, I have the honor of driving to the airport to pick up my best good friend of now some unbelievable twenty years. She will be here for a weekend that likely will move way too fast.

Attached is a very small photo (sorry about the size, I don’t have the original handy) of my best friend and me on my wedding day. I wouldn’t have anyone else at my side. She’s just said something that has cracked. me. up.

You don’t laugh that hard with someone who you kind of feel fond about…you laugh that hard with someone who is family.

I love that girl. I can hardly wait to see her!

P.S. Not to be all selfish, but to have both my best girlfriend and The Good Man together this weekend, two people who are always in my court, it’s kind of all about me, and…well, hell, it’s *good* to be me!