On The Wrong Road

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This morning at an hour not early enough to avoid crushing commute time travels, I navigated my old Jeep through some swirls and whorls of Bay Area traffic and found myself on Highway 80 approaching the Bay Bridge.

As I did, I was thinking about the planned upcoming visit from my best friend in the whole world, and how excited I am to see her. Been too long.

I was listening to a shuffle of whatever music is on my iPhone by way of calming my nerves when a real old song came on, one of my best pal’s faves (a Waylon Jennings tune if you must know). As often happens to me in this crazy mixed up life of mine, what I saw with my eyes was the Bay Bridge but what I wished in my heart was that I was somewhere else.

Something about the springtime makes me miss New Mexico pretty ferociously. I let some memories in and found myself landing in a place called Lake Valley and the abandoned schoolhouse where we used to go to dance. That’s a whole other highway then were I was in that moment.

All of this reminded me that I once wrote about Lake Valley so I went into the archives and pulled this post up from 2007. I had to edit it quite a bit because, well, my editing skills have improved a bit since then.

So here’s a memory. Do click on that link to the Baxter Black piece if you get a chance. He says it better than I ever could.

Happy Dancin’ Friday to you, wherever you are today.



—————-


When memories reach up and grab you

Originally published March 26, 2007

Lately I’ve been on quite a jag of reading the works of one noble New Mexico-born left handed cowboy poet named Baxter Black.

He’s a good friend of my “adopted dad” (my best friend’s father) and I had the chance to meet him face-to-face back in college. Of course, I’ve heard plenty of his stories over the years.

I was heartened to see that my local library carried a good selection of Bax’s works. They make you smile, make you think and make you outright laugh yer bum off.

I just got done reading one of his collections of NPR material called “Horseshoes, Cowsocks and Duckfeet”.

One selection from that book is called “Lake Valley” and man oh man, that almost made me weep with homesickness. It also made me smile to know that two people, some twenty-five years apart in age, have similar memories of the same place and similar events. That’s the staying power of Lake Valley.

Back at NMSU I used to go to dancing at Lake Valley with my best friend. She’s the one who turned me on to it. Her parents used to come along for the fun because they went to NMSU too, and they danced at Lake Valley (probably along with Bax).

I remember at the dance they used to charge a family rate of $20. My fill-in dad would gather up all us scraggly college kids, blonds, redheads, brunettes, short, tall, thin, stocky and all about the same age. He’d lead us to the door, point to our gang, tell ’em that was his family, throw ’em a twenty and we’d all get in.

You know, in our way, we were (and are) family. [insert my best wistful smile right here as I miss my best friend for like the hundredth time today, already]

The way Bax describes Lake Valley in his writing is just how I remember it. When I was dancing, it was with a band called The Rounders and they played the old songs. What a talented group, The Rounders. They even played at my best friend’s wedding. Now THAT was a party.

At the end of this post is a photo I found online. It’s how the schoolhouse used to look when it was still a school. Ok, imagine that, but with no desks and a lot more years on it. That’s pretty much how I remember. See that riser there at the end? Where the teacher would sit? That’s where the band would play. It was a long narrow room so we had to dance in a long oval. Like Bax said, as we danced, the floorboards would give under your feet and they weren’t particularly even and a few nail heads were popped up, so you had to mind your feet. But oh it was a hell of a good time.

I’ve never felt quite so free, happy and in touch with the simple easy joys in life as I did dancing at Lake Valley. I miss the feeling of flying I’d get dancing a polka with my very tall and very dear friend Larry. I loved the camaraderie of wrapping arm around arm and doing the Schottische and Cotton Eyed Joe (“stepped in what?”).

And, as Bax said, when the band took a break, we’d all migrate outside to cool off and dip into someone’s ice chest for food, beverages and the telling of a few good stories.

We were all community then. We were bound by our heritage and our lives in New Mexico. Under that bright moonlight we were all inextricably connected, and it felt so right.

Ah the memories. If I let ’em, they’ll take over my whole day.







Image from Living Ghost Towns.




And Then It Got Surreal

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Yesterday I found myself sitting in the very posh office of the Chief Executive Offer (CIO) of this here organization that employs me. Our CIO is absolutely brilliant, well recognized in the IT field and is one hell of a business woman. She’s also a rather serious sort, which is fine. All business.

Somehow I’ve managed to be a good enough little employee and shown enough of my own savvy that she has been willing to invite me to some pretty high level meetings. Yesterday was one such meeting and I was damn lucky to be invited.

In the office were five of us minions from various ends of the business along with the Lady With a C Title.

The IT organization is building a very big and very key component of the business systems here at the ol’ place of employ, so we were on the phone with a third party having a fairly intense negotiation.

The building where the CIO sits is very, very old and a brand new happy IT building is being constructed as we speak. It’s going up right in front of the existing building and will be a little jewel of efficiency and network capacity. Good stuff!

The current building sits on a hill and the windows from the CIO’s office offer a spectacular view of San Francisco and even the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance. When I do get to be in her office, I always sit near one of the large windows and spectate the view.

So there we are yesterday on the call with our CIO and the CIOs from four other large organizations speaking with a third party company about this huge joint effort. My C Level exec was taking the lead on the call and right from the start, things were getting tense.

As she was speaking, suddenly I hear the “bluuuuaaaaaart!” of an air horn. The kind of air horn that an obnoxious fan might bring to a football game. I’m the sort of gal who startles easily so the air horn lifted me a quarter inch off of my seat. As my head whipped around to look out the window to see what, exactly, the frap was going on, I noticed a large bundle of rebar go floating by.

Ah, I see. The construction.

Because I am mature and a professional, I immediately wanted to start giggling like crazy. It was so surreal. “Blah, blah, blah you are not understanding our strict budget requirements…*bluuuuaaaaaart!*… : bundle of rebar floats by: ”

So I looked at my shoes, I looked at my notebook, I looked anywhere but in anyone’s eye because I was about to laugh my fool head off.

Ahem. Then I regained my composure and my serious “umm hmm” look and got back in the game.

About ten minutes later, the CIO is drilling the third party rep, “That is NOT what I told you two weeks ago, you have NOT addressed the key component of this proposal…*bluuuuaaaaaart!*…: floating rebar :”

Oh hell. I can’t keep it together. I bit the insides of my cheeks and stayed strong.

Then a scant five minutes later the third party rep, “…we can only provide this set of concessions because the way our company is positioned, the street won’t look favorably on…*bluuuuaaaaaart!*…: floating rebar : ”

I can only imagine what the guy on the phone was thinking. He had no perspective on what the air horn was about, he just kept hearing it over the line.

Which made me wonder if that wasn’t the greatest negotiation tool ever!

This third time I hazarded a look around the room and found that no one other than me seemed to be affected by the air horn blasts. They were all cool as a cucumber while I was using every tool in my arsenal to hold it together.

The fourth time was the deal breaker. It came at such an awkward moment in the conversation that all five of us minions broke down and started giggling like kindergartners. I looked around the room as we all laughed. All of us. Except the CIO.

Whoops. Ahem.

Thankfully the meeting soon wrapped up and as I took my leave, the CIO thanked me for attending and I managed to stay very serious and professional, but I chuckled all the way to the parking lot.

I may be a well-regarded professional, but that latent childhood hasn’t gone away yet. Nor do I expect it will anytime soon.

*bluuuuaaaaaart!*





Image from The Sportsman’s Guide.




Ow

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The funny thing is, when your tooth hurts, nothing else really matters.

The sun could be shining, birds chirping and a thousand dollars in cash just lying there on the sidewalk begging you to take it, but none of that matters.

When your tooth hurts, there is just bleak darkness and anger and frowns. Lots and lots of frowns.

A little over a week ago I was having The Worst Friday Ever and during that day I managed to break a tooth. It didn’t hurt but it needed to be fixed.

Monday was fixin’ day. I spent two and a half hours in a dentist’s chair with two people in my mouth doing barbaric and vile things to the tooth way at the very back of my jaw.

You know that moment when the dentist is drilling your tooth and you smell smoke? Tooth smoke? Yeah. There was an awful lot of tooth smoke in that room on Monday.

Also, you see, here’s something you should know about me. I’m a sensitive little flower. I can’t take a full dose of over the counter cold medicine because it will knock me out. I take one quarter of a 25mg blood pressure pill. 25mg is the smallest size they make and I have to half it and then half it again. I can’t drink a cup of regular coffee or it will give me a migraine. The small amount of caffeine in a cup of decaf will actually wind me up.

When the dentist gives a normal person Novocain, they add a drop of epinephrine, a hard core stimulant. The epi helps the medicine act fast, be more effective and last longer. I cannot tolerate the epinephrine. At all. So I have to have more shots that don’t work that effectively. Then halfway through the procedure, I have to have more shots. And then there is a point where I am asked to simply gut it out.

I don’t gut things out all that well, especially pain. See delicate little flower syndrome.

But I have been seeing this same dentist for nigh on sixteen years and he knows I’m a fruit cake and I know he’s a good doctor and he’s about the only person I would allow to do such mean things to my nice little teeth.

So I survived the two and a half hour ordeal and was near catatonic for the rest of the day. Yesterday I went to the office and worked a thirteen hour day while blood oozed from the wound and made me nauseous.

And it hurt. When your tooth hurts, nothing else really matters.

Today I’m improving but it’s not great.

I haz a cranky.






Image from Oral Pathology.




Hi Hi He

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While I will admit to the fact that I am the kind of storyteller that enjoys a liberal splash of hyperbole in all my writings, I hereby certify that the following is a true and accurate description of the events of yesterday.

Here we go.

So there I was in the ladies room finishing up my I-drank-too-many-cups-of-green-tea business when another lady entered the stall next to me and with much huffing and rustling of seat cover went ahead and copped a squat.

As she settled in she began heartily whistling “over hill, over dale, we will hit the dusty trail” also known as the Caisson Song or the Army song.

Apparently this rousing rendition was the perfect accompaniment to the job ahead.

I hi hi hee’d right the heck out of the concert hall before she got to the part about “field artillery.”

No one wants to be a part of that.

That completes the entirety of the thoughtful and meaningful content of this post, dated Friday, March 8th in the year 2013.

Happy Friday.








Image from Observations & Answers.




Cease That Infernal Clanking!

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Today in the very small hours of the morning, I found myself wide awake.

Wide. Awake.

I do not know why, exactly, my body said, “hey, you know, 3:12 am is an awesome time to be awake. Let’s do it!” I could only go along with the overbearing wishes of my body and try to get through.

So there I lay, staring at the ceiling and contemplating my life, and I noticed quite a racket going on outside. One mutha of a late winter storm came ripping through the Bay Area last night. Intense winds howled and pile drove raindrops into window panes.

But that wasn’t the noise that had my dander in a full upright and locked position. Nope, it was the gall dang wind chimes that the neighbors above us have hanging from their balcony.

I really deeply profoundly dislike metal tube clanky wind chimes. The high pitched sound actually assaults my ears.

“But what about those cool bamboo chimes” you might be asking.

And I would reply, “No. No no no no no nonononononononono.”

We have rules about not forcing neighbors to listen to your smooth Muzac jazz played loudly over a stereo. We regulate leaf blowers. We ask that noisy cars be muffled.

But clank makers are juuuust fine. Assault the ears of your neighbor all you want.

I DO NOT WANT TO SHARE YOUR CLANK NOISE!

I am a woman of New Mexico. Wind is not something we celebrate or entice to visit our balconies. Wind is something to be endured along with tumbleweeds, goat heads and rattlesnakes (see: safety training from yesterday).

With teeth gritting and bile rising, I tried to use my whirling mind for the greater good of all mankind and the 35 other units in the building. With my new harness training in mind (see: safety training from yesterday) I considered scaling the exterior of the building up just one floor and yanking those clank tubes clean off the deck.

But it was so cold and rainy outside I figured by the time that journey was done I’d really be wide awake. Plus the neighbors might be a tad cranky at my destruction of their property.

I considered using a high powered pellet gun to shoot them sumnabitches off the side of the building, but The Good Man had a long talk with me about the use of gun-like devices in an urban setting in a state that has no sense of humor about these things. So that was out.

So that just left me very awake, cranky and frustrated.

Rattin’ smattin’ windchimes.

Turns out my friends across the pond are with me on this:

Why wind chimes are the UK’s most hated garden accessory








Photo from Notes From A Burning House.