Somewhere In Between

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Part II in a series.


Today I continue my New Mexico storytelling with Part II. I guess my short trip to New Mexico last week takes more than one post to discuss.

At four days, it was a quick trip, too quick if you ask me, and even though time elapsed fast, there was an indelible impression left upon me. New Mexico kind of does that to a person, right?

The last time I had been north of Las Cruces was in 2009, so it wasn’t that long ago, but certainly long enough ago to change my worldview.

Back then I was newly married (yay!), had endured one of the worst years of my professional life (boo!). I found myself without a job, without any leads, and a little dislocated as I learned how to be both unemployed and married. Both being something I had never before experienced.

I returned to the homeland last week on a warm Spring Saturday with almost six years of marriage tucked under my belt and a really good job that I love very much. Time really does heal wounds.

To be honest, sometimes I still feel very dislocated. Caught somewhere in between. I am a New Mexican, through and through, but it has now been almost seventeen years that I have lived in California. My god. Seventeen. Where the hell did all those years go?

So I am not really a New Mexican anymore, but I’m seriously not a Californian either. What, exactly, am I? I don’t know and that’s the problem.






(Apparently this is a long running theme for me, here’s something from the archives.)


My best friend and goddaughters were on their Spring Break and wanted to make a trip to Santa Fe. As near as I can recall, the last time I was in Santa Fe I was somewhere in my twenties. Well, that’s not entirely true. I went to the outskirts of Santa Fe in 2009 because my father is buried there, at the National Cemetery.

But that last time I had been on the Plaza? Yeeks. I was of drinking age, but not old enough to know better, certainly.

Let’s just say, it’s been a while.

Santa Fe was, well, Santa Fe. She has changed in many ways. She has not changed at all in other ways.

Of course, one of the first places I had to visit was the Loretto Chapel. I have always loved that place, from the time I was a small child to now.

I had wanted so much to get married there, I mean, I really wanted that, but logistics being what they are, it just couldn’t happen.

(I am more than thrilled with where and how we did get married in California, by the by.)

In my mind, my child’s mind, the Loretto chapel was teeny tiny and the stairs were at the very back wall of the chapel. I was pleasantly surprised to see the chapel is actually larger than I remembered, with several rows of pews behind the very famous staircase.

So of course I took an unremarkable photo of the remarkable treasure. A photo from the same vantage point where everyone snaps the shutter, from behind the worn velvet ropes. It’s a bit like the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s been done. To death. It’s hard to do it any differently than the thousands who came before.

But that’s ok. I took the photo for me. A memory. An image that I don’t have to expend a calorie trying to conjure up in my mind. I can ease my brain and rest my eyes and smile fondly to see this photo.




Copyright © 2014 Karen Fayeth

While in Santa Fe, we also went to the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis. Where Loretto is small, the Basilica is gigantic. Overwhelming in its proportions.

I took a lot of photos and absorbed all of my surroundings.




A bird at the base of a statue of Saint Francis and the Basilica’s rose window in the background.

Copyright © 2014 Karen Fayeth


Of course, I have a lot of mixed feelings about being raised Catholic, but that is not something to discuss here. I do try to stay away from religion and politics on the blog, though I don’t always succeed.

That said, I have always loved the iconography of the Catholic church and being raised in the Hispanic culture means all of those images hold a lot of power for me. The images are not just religious but part of our culture and folk art. It has shown up in a lot of my own work.

I have been obsessed for a long time with the image of a flaming heart and also a heart with a crown over it. Of course this is the Sagrado Corazón, found on paintings and statues and sculptures.

Being in such a beautiful space and being in Santa Fe and seeing all of these reminders of my childhood made me need to sit down. Just sit and be quiet. And think. And absorb.

My two godkids had a lot of questions for me about the Catholic Church and what some of the images mean. The Stations of the Cross proved to be a place of fear for my younger godkid, and I tried to explain that it was telling a story, certainly a sad story, but that it had a happy ending.

Meanwhile my thoughts raged with questions like, “Who am I?” and “Why don’t I know?” and “Why have I had this lost feeling for such a long time?”

Questions as unanswerable as some of the challenges posed by my beautiful girls.

I love New Mexico and inside of me something is able to rest when I am there, but to be honest there is another part of me (that has been there all of my life) that cannot rest, and needs more than New Mexico can give.

The only place that I truly know is home is anywhere The Good Man happens to be. That, I think, was my best comfort while the thoughts and feelings swirled like an eastern New Mexico tornado through my brain.


Part III: ¡Comida! There is Indian and then there is Indian




Images Copyright © 2014 Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons license in the right column of this page. The Loretto staircase was taken with an iPhone5 and the Camera+ app. The little bird was taken with a Canon G10 and some crawling around on the ground.




From A Goat to A Hero in 148 Pitches

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“Baseball is a lot like life. It’s a day-to-day existence, full of ups and downs. You make the most of your opportunities in baseball as you do in life.”

— Ernie Harwell, Hall of Fame Broadcaster for the Detroit Tigers

As a longtime baseball fan, I’ve often spent time pondering this very notion, that baseball is an awful lot like life. I have even written yards of stories and words on this very topic. After watching thousands of games, I personally believe that across the nature of nine innings of baseball, in each and every game, a story is told.

One of the most curiously fascinating concepts to me is that a player can make a terrible error in one inning (thus making him the goat) and then be the hero of the game in the very next inning.

Local broadcaster Mike Krukow has often commented that it’s just an unwritten fact of baseball, the guy who bobbles the ball in one inning is going to be at bat the next inning. Or, the guy who made a spectacular catch will also be up in the next inning.

It’s an odd philosophy but I’ve observed that it is pretty spot on. Baseball with all of its flaws and issues is an awfully democratic game. Second chances are given. Third, fourth and fifth chances too. The player who is a super star can slip into an 0 for 42 slump. That guy who can’t seem to hit a damn thing can suddenly make a key play that propels him to a 40 for 42 streak.

You just never know. And that is pretty much like life.

It was with this in mind that I joyfully watched a guy on a real bad downswing named Tim Lincecum, who plays for the San Francisco Giants, complete a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres on Saturday night.

Tim burst on the baseball scene in 2007 as a first round draft pick. Everything about him does not scream baseball. He is a very small person, running about 5’11” on a day he’s standing up very straight and clocking in at maybe 170 pound soaking wet. He is an unlikely pitcher compared to the usual broad shouldered and well over six-footers that dominate the mound.

In addition, Tim’s delivery style is rather unique and eyebrow raising among followers of Major League Baseball. In order to get speed from his small frame, he contorts and twists his body back and delivers a pitch with a whipsaw motion. This delivery and his ability to baffle quality hitters has earned him the nickname “The Freak.”

As no major league batter had ever seen this kind of delivery, Lincecum dominated MLB for his first several seasons, racking up two Cy Young awards, several trips to the All Star Game, and much respect.

But as baseball is the great equalizer, major league hitters began to get used to how Tim pitched. They watched hours of tape and they started to work him out. Suddenly the phenom fell to earth and his pitching was not so freakish anymore. He was, as they say, getting “touched up” pretty regularly.

Over about three years, Lincecum has struggled mightily, and last year in the post season leading to the World Series, he was taken out of the starting rotation and placed in the bullpen. This is an ego bruiser for even the most easygoing of pitcher.

But Tim took it in stride, pitched well in relief and helped the team win the 2012 World Series.

This season, Lincecum has been showing marked improvement, but his teammates are batting so poorly in support of his outings that his record looks dismal. His quality outings have been a bright spot in a pretty terrible season for the San Francisco Giants.

Recently everyone (especially this Giants fan) has been wondering if this is the end of the era of Tim Lincecum.

So it was unlikely to see our small Mr. Lincecum on the mound pitching for his life on Saturday night. He worked his way through all nine innings and threw 148 pitches to close out his first no-hitter.

To be honest, I felt certain he’d throw a no-hitter in the first few years of his career, his stuff was that baffling. But in many ways, it has to be almost more satisfying to have been a phenom, then struggle, then battle back to show Major League Baseball that maybe the era isn’t ending, but simply starting a new chapter.

What a great story. What an amazing game. What an accomplishment.

Lately I have been wavering a little in my allegiance to the San Francisco Giants, as they have been playing sloppy baseball and embarrassing themselves left and right. I was becoming bored with this season’s story. Saturday night I turned the page and a new chapter filled with twists and turns greeted me. I’m now back in the game.

Thank you, Mr. Lincecum, for winning back my heart and mind and for telling me, a storyteller in my own right, one hell of a tale.

Much deserved.








Bonus!

Another priceless moment from that no hitter game: A pitch accidentally hits the umpire in the gut, right at the bottom of his chest protector. Ow. Watch Lincecum’s reaction. Awesome.








Image from Wikipedia and used under a Creative Commons 2.0 licensing agreement with attribution.

Footage belongs to MLB, .gif was found here.




My Moment Of Zen

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In a full to overflowing bathtub, I relax, soaking the ache out of legs and content to be surrounded by water. It’s not long before I slide down, legs crawling up the wall under the shower, head dipping below the surface. My right hand plugs my nose and my left hand covers my eyes like a sleep mask and water fills my ears.

I savor these few moments I have to just float in nothing.

The water amplifies noise but bends the sound waves into something more beautiful. Even the passing fire truck with its shrill siren and blaring horns sounds almost musical when passed through my warm, clear water. The rhythmic hum of the clothes dryer puts me in a trance and I enjoy this until my lungs ask politely and then not so politely if we can surface and take in some new, unused air.

I reluctantly rise up and gasp in a big breath and go under again. It’s just too delicious and quite addictive. This time I think about buying a snorkel so I can stay under the water and still breathe. I’ve considered buying a snorkel so I can stay under my bathwater ever since I was a kid.

Even as a child I was drawn to the solace and quiet of being under water. One early evening as I was taking a bath and creating my own sensory isolation chamber, my mother walked in to check on me. As any protective mother of three children would do when presented with the sight of her youngest lying apparently lifeless in a bathtub full of water, she freaked out.

My mother yanked me from the water and shook me hard, shouting my name. I unplugged my nose and uncovered my eyes and said, “What?”

I got a well-deserved and thorough chewing out and was told in no uncertain terms that I was never to simply slide under the water and remain motionless. Ever.

When I later emerged from my bath and got dressed and ran a comb through my unruly long hair, I was confronted by my father who ripped into me for scaring my mother.

I always thought that was quite unfair. I didn’t set out to intentionally scare my mother. I simply wanted a moment, if even half a minute, where I didn’t exist in the world. Where everything was blocked out and time slowed down and sounds bent in pleasing ways.

My solution thereafter was to continue to dunk my head well below water and plug my nose with my right hand. With my left hand, I would raise it above the surface and wave it like the Queen on parade so that any passerby would know I was still conscious, just submerged.

This seemed a suitable solution for all. A nice compromise.

I’ve always wanted to visit one of those sensory isolation tanks. It sounds like a little slice of heaven to me. Floating in a tank with no light and hardly any sound and just the quiet to embrace me. Yes, I think I would love this very much.

The Good Man thinks I’m half a bubble off level to consider this. “I always figure while you are locked in there, the people outside will steal your stuff or do something weird,” he says.

This is how his mind works. This is not how my mind works.

A few years ago we visited a spa in Calistoga, California. The spas in Calistoga are known for their mud baths. You give them money and they allow you to slide your nekkid body into a warm tub of slightly sulphurous goo. The weight of the mud resists your body, you actually have to dig in there. Once settled, you are surrounded and suspended and oh my goodness I could have stayed in there for weeks.

The Good Man did not feel as kindly toward the mud. He said he was antsy the whole time he was in there and ready to vault from the tub. He couldn’t wait for it to be over. I never wanted it to stop.

Perhaps it’s something Freudian that I like to slip into warm suspended places and forget about things for a while. I choose to think it rather normal to want to seek out genuine moments of respite where the world and all its crazy spinning and shouting and clanking and cruelty goes away, for just a moment. For as long as it takes me to hold my breath.

Until I buy a snorkel.








Image found here.




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.




Stumped

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The Imagination Prompt Generator suggests:

Name three reasons why you should get out of bed tomorrow…

1. Um.

2. Errr.

3. I dunno.

And there you have it, ladies and gentleman! Blog post gold.

Ok, ok. I’ll be less of a smart alec and put a little thought into it.

1. Cuz I gotta get paid and they kind of require my shiny little face all up in this place in order to make the cash flow my way. (oooh! Lyrical!)

2. I gotta get up sometime, I guess.

3. A girl’s gotta eat. And The Good Man has requested no eating in bed due to my general messiness and overall crumb production.

You see, I generally don’t bother finding a good reason to get out of bed. There are no good reasons. I don’t wanna get out of bed, I want to find reasons to stay tucked in.

I tend to approach rising from the rack in the same manner as Amarante, the old man in the book (and movie) Milagro Beanfield War.

He rises from his bed all wild haired and crazy eyed and shuffles toward the mirror. At the basin he washes his face then tentatively takes a look in the mirror. If he can see his own reflection, he knows he’s still alive.

Upon seeing his reflection, he grunts and says, “Thank you God, for letting me have another day.”

Then I stumble outside to talk to a New Mexican trickster spirit. Or, barring that, climb on BART and go to work.

Tomorrow is another day and I’m still stumped for reasons why I would want to get out of bed.






Image from Apartment Therapy.