The More Things Change

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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.




Wind Sprints

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If today is Halloween, that must mean tomorrow is November 1. The first day of November is not only Dia de Los Muertos, but also ushers in the annual National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo.

Eight times I have successfully completed a 50,000 word story in the span of just 30 days. Last year was the first time I attempted and failed NaNo. And even in my failure, I learned a lot.

In the spirit of try, try again, I’m going to take a run at it again this year. This despite the fact that I have no story ideas and a lot of anxiety about it.

And so as an athlete stretches and runs wind sprints in order to get ready for the big game, I am going to run some wordy sprints.

With that, I turn again to Unconscious Mutterings for some random word prompts. I love this warm up.

So here we go!

  1.  Crying ::

    What I will not be doing on November 30th if all goes well. That said, a good cry is cathartic and good for the soul. It might take a heavy bout of crying mid-month in the throes of writer’s block in order to break through and make it to that 50,000th word.

    It remains to be seen.


  2. Reluctant ::

    I am, truly, rather reluctant to have another go at this crazy month of writing. It’s always awesome and I’m amazed at what I can produce in so short a time. It’s also quite taxing on The Muse. I get creatively wiped out by the end of the marathon. Blisters on the brain pan or something. But it’s also quite satisfying. That mind numbing creative exhaustion means I have created something and that is the coolest feeling in the world.


  3. Decade ::

    My first go at this crazy NaNo game was back in 2004. I’m closing in on a decade of this wordy abuse. Lots of words and time well spent. By writing this blog I know my writing has improved vastly and my ability to write on the fly has grown strong. So hey, rock on.


  4. Mustache ::

    So what’s the deal with mustaches these days? They are not just facial hair anymore. Now a mustache is a meme. I mean, there are accessories, baseball logos and many Tumblrs.

    Plus, let’s just settle this right now. Rollie Fingers. Greatest mustache of all time. Boo-yah.


  5. Water ::

    Well now, not to bring down the language and mustache party, but water sure has been a topic of conversation lately, hasn’t it? Water, so life giving, so essential, so gosh darn powerful. The photos of subway stations and buildings and streets filled with water in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy are so profoundly scary and overwhelming. I know that New York and New Jersey are incredibly resilient and will bounce back. But as of today, it’s just overwhelming to witness the power and destruction of simple H2O.


  6. March ::

    Let’s see…the 2012 baseball season ended Monday. The celebration parade up Market Street in San Francisco was today. Baseball is officially over.

    World Baseball Classic begins March 2.

    *sigh*


  7. Stripes ::

    As I’m writing this, “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” is on the telly. Right now Linus is sitting in the pumpkin patch, wearing a red shirt with stripes, explaining to Sally about the Great Pumpkin.

    Then he uttered something that seemed a little meaningful here in on the last day of October and six days before the end of election season.

    “I don’t see how a pumpkin patch can be more sincere than this one. You can look around and there’s not a sign of hypocrisy. Nothing but sincerity as far as the eye can see.”

    Oh how I wish I could find a place, even a small pumpkin patch, where there is not a sign of hypocrisy and sincerity as far as the eye can see.

    Sadly that’s not the view from where I’m sitting. Maybe I’ll check again next week.


  8. Friendship ::

    Recently I got to spend three days with my best friend of over twenty years. She is family and brilliant and each year of our friendship means everything to me. We may live miles apart but she lives right here in my heart every day. Being with her for a few days made me actually miss her MORE than I already did.

    Time is the scarcest commodity of them all.


  9. Weirdo ::

    It’s a testament to the kind of woman she is that for over twenty years she’s put up with a weirdo like me.

    Tomorrow also brings the anniversary of the day I met The Good Man. It’s a testament to the kind of man he is that he puts up with my special brand of weird every day.

    I’m very lucky and that’s said with nothing but sincerity as far as the eye can see.


  10. Contacts ::

    As this Halloween night wanes on, time to pluck the contacts from my eyes and bid adieu the season of orange and black. An ABC TV interstitial just announced it is now officially the “holiday season.”

    This makes me sad. And scared. And reluctant.

    Ok, for now, I must focus on NaNo. Freak out over the holiday season can wait until later.


Well there you have it. Whew. I’m winded and warmed up and ready to write!








Image from Soccer Skills and Training.



Nightmares

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In honor of Halloween, the scariest day of the year, I figured I’d do a little mental deep dive and reveal some of my most scary nightmares.

Perhaps in the light of day they won’t seem so scary, right? Maybe I can take some of the fear out of them.

I had one of these dreams last night and found it hard to shake off. So let’s start with that one.


I’m in my car, driving too fast, and suddenly, my brakes don’t work. The pedal feels right, I’m pressing on it and it gives resistance, but the car isn’t slowing down. I grab frantically for the handbrake but that does no good. I try to take the car out of gear, but that doesn’t work….often I’m rolling down a hill. Sometimes it’s in San Francisco.


Only once in my life did I had something similar happen. I was in college and driving my dad’s old ’72 full size Blazer, and the master cylinder was going out. I rolled to an intersection, hit the brakes, and it went all the way to the floor. Yipes! I was able to get my toe under the pedal, lift it, and kept pumping the brakes until I finally stopped. I was scared, but thankfully got through that safely.

I have no idea what this inability to stop is about but it *freaks* me out. I was all jittery driving to work this morning.


I’m in danger, I turn to run, but my legs are heavy and I can’t run. I’m making a running motion but moving slower than molasses in January. I bend over and use my arms to help me run/crawl, scratching at the ground trying to get away.


I think this one is a fairly common dream. A lot of people have it. I’m not much of a runner in real life and I think this dream plays on my own insecurities about that fact. Like, if I was ever really in trouble, could I run away?

Yeeeks!


I’m in college. It’s finals week. Trouble is, there is a class that I haven’t bothered to attend all semester. I’m freaking out! What am I going to do? There is no way I can pass this class! I’m going to fail!


The class I forgot to attend is usually a math class (my absolute worst subject). Sometimes it’s accounting. Lately it’s morphed into that god awful advanced Economics night class I had in grad school.

This is such a weenie nightmare. I can’t believe how much it totally freaks me out. Oh dear, I might fail a class. Big deal!

But I wake from this dream *frantic* and freaking out.

The monsters of the mind are far worse than any creepy Halloween story, I guess.


I’m staying in a really nice hotel. I go to my room and check in. Then I leave my room for some reason, I need ice, I need to find something to eat, whatever. And then I can’t find my way back to my room. I go up and down stairs. I wander through hallways of the hotel. I keep taking the elevator and it puts me on floors I don’t recognize. The more I try to find my way back, the more lost I become. I start getting more and more frantic.


This dream often takes place in a huge Las Vegas casino (ever felt hopelessly lost inside of a huge casino in real life? I sure have.). Sometimes it takes place on a college campus or a high school building. It’s a dream of chasing my tail ’round and ’round.

Whenever I check into a hotel in my real life, I inevitably try to find landmarks so I can find my way back, owing to my whackadelic brain and this dream that recurs month after month, year after year.


Tornados. Enough said.


I’ve chronicled my own Really Bad Day dancing with a tornado in Carlsbad. I think that one afternoon left me irrevocably scarred.

Ok, of all of my frightful dreams, at least this on and the brakes going out are dreams that I can go “well yeah, that’s actually scary!”

I think the rest of my nightmares listed are pretty much crazy machinations of an over emotional brain.

To misquote Emerson, simply hobgoblins of my little mind.

Happy Halloween everyone!







Devil graphic by Viktors Kozers and used royalty free from stock.xchng.


Gettin’ Ready!

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Hello Lady Readers, just a quick post for you.

Back in April we chatted about about my fandom for Sally Hansen Salon Effects, a fabulous easy to apply nail polish product.

Well, I’m back and I love Salon Effects more than ever.

New in stores, seasonal nail goodness!



I love that I’m wearing this at my stuffy corporate job. Most ladies here have simple buffed and clear polish hands.

Not me! (Ok, to be fair, I did check the calendar and I don’t have any in-person meetings with suppliers or managers until next Tuesday. The ghosties will be stripped off by then…. I do have some sense of decorum…..un poquito….)

Wheeeee!

Happy Early Halloween!


When the Veil Thins

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Tomorrow Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead is here again.

When all the plastic spiders and smashed pumpkins of Halloween have passed, I turn to this well known Latin American holiday to celebrate my friends and family who have passed on to the next journey.

Other cultures have similar holidays and traditions, the Bon Festival in Japan, All Saints Day in Europe, but it’s the Mexican version of Dia de los Muertos that resonates with me.

The belief, loosely, is that on this day the veil between the living and the dead is thin, and so offerings of favorite food, booze, decorations and memorabilia will be seen, enjoyed and appreciated by our deceased.

I think Dia de los Muertos appeals to me because it brings a sense of humor and fun to a painful, somber thing. It’s a chance for a community to come together and remember. To feel close to those we have lost.

Personally, just this past August, I withstood a very deep loss. Tomorrow I will remember my friend who died way too young.

I will remember my father who passed away almost six years ago. My mom will certainly remember her husband. Together, we keep his memory alive.

Grandparents, friends, family, people I hardly knew, famous people. We all deserve to be remembered by those we’ve left behind.

My grief is a slippery thing. Sometimes so overwhelming, I don’t know how I can sit up and walk through the world. Other days, it’s like a dull noise in the background. Remembering on a day like tomorrow helps keep me grounded. Keeps me sane.