Oh Polly, not again.

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You know…since moving from New Mexico I’ve read the ABQjournal off and on via the net to keep up on news. Since starting this blog just a few weeks ago, I’ve been reading the ABQjournal much more thoroughly. I’ve now determined something…..one Ms Polly Summar, “journal north” columnist, someone whose work I’m not familiar with and as of today have only read twice, is going to provide A LOT of fodder for this blog.

First off…I want her job…because I far as I can tell, she gets to complain for a living. Sure, I’m doing that here on this blog, but she’s getting *paid*.

Second…dear, dear Polly. You gotta get out of Santa Fe sometimes. There’s a whole bright world out there! I don’t know why you think the world oughta bend to your will…it ain’t gonna happen. I suggest taking some of those over priced Santa Fe yoga classes and get in touch with your Kundalini or something…because, nice lady, you are going to pop a vein if you keep letting all this stuff get to you.

You say you are a baby boomer…I thought the hallmark of the boomers was their “live and let live” demeanor. What happened to you?

Today Polly is on about the younger employees of her office. In the same way I found her to be rather rude about the tourists in her beautiful town, now she’s snubbing the 20-somethings in today’s article, “Don’t Bother Trying To Bond With Office Youths”.

Don’t bother? That implies these people aren’t worth your valuable time. If you walk around with that attitude it’s no wonder people don’t want to “bond” with you.

Who bonds with their coworkers anyway? They are not your friends. They are not there to be your moral support. They are all there to do a job. And so are you. Leave your coworkers alone fer goodness sakes!

I think Polly’s point number 5 chilled me the most:

“It is fine for you to do some things with 20-somethings during the week, like lunch or a quick dinner after work. But don’t go and start inviting them to do things on the weekend. That is both gross and weird. Or maybe it’s just weird. Just don’t do it.”

Oh my god! That’s both gross and weird at ANY age! No one goes around asking coworkers to do things on the weekends unless you have already established that kind of friendship with them, which is rare at work. I don’t hang out with any of my coworkers anywhere other than work. If you go around randomly inviting ANY coworker, regardless of age, to do things on the weekends I can guarantee folks will avoid you like you’ve got a stinging case of the avian flu.

Are you that lonely, Ms Summar, that you are trolling your place of employment for friends? I’ve always, personally, made it a policy to keep work at work and keep personal to personal. It’s a lighter version of “don’t dip your pen in the company ink”. I don’t WANT my coworkers involved in my personal life…because I have to WORK (you know, as a professional) with these folks. I don’t want to have to negotiate a huge contract with someone who knows that I worry about my hair color being too brassy and that I’m confused because last night I cried my eyes out again over something that happened over two years ago.

THAT is not conducive to work.

I think the tone of this whole article is sad. You are doing nothing to improve your situation or the over all situation of “us vs them”. You are making it worse. Much worse.

I remember being a fresh faced kid out of college working at Sandia Labs. The median age at Sandia isn’t exactly “youthful”. I was a fresh faced 23 year old MBA grad and I ran into a lot of curmudgeons who couldn’t be bothered to mess with a “young kid” (they actually called me that). They constantly reminded me that I was young and “didn’t know anything” (they actually said that). It was, actually, pretty demoralizing. I knew there was much to learn from these folks. They had made successful careers and I wanted one too. But they dismissed me much the same as Ms. Summar dismisses the younger employees of her office. And I lost out on a lot because of that attitude.

The good news is that my first boss, and the boss that followed, both took me under their respective wings. They are boomer-aged folks, had been at the labs twenty years or better at the time, and they knew they didn’t have to talk to me in the “lingo”. Here’s what they did, Ms. Summar, they talked to me like they would talk to any adult, without regard for my age (hey, there’s a respectful concept!). I formed deep friendships with both of them that last to this day (that was about fifteen years ago). They mentored me and today I can honestly say I owe my quite successful career to them both. I still email with them regularly. They still help me when I’m stuck with a work situation. They still make me laugh. They tell me how much they miss me, and I believe them because I miss them too.

And guess what? Today, I mentor the people in my office they way they mentored me. There is a very bright 21 year old working in my office. I made a reference to a 70’s show, “The Jeffersons”, much like Ms. Summar did with “The Odd Couple” in her article. The young girl of course said “what?”. I laughed, she looked at me odd, and here’s what I did…I said “here’s what I meant….” She got it, because I gave her the benefit of the doubt.

Give people (regardless of age) the benefit of the doubt, Ms. Summar. Please!

Look what you are missing out on. Your elitist attitude is standing in the way of what could be a meaningful mentorship, passing on all you know to those that come after you in your same chosen career. Hey maybe THAT is a place to start, the fact you both chose careers in journalism. By sniffing and snubbing the “youth” (who but a curmudgeon even uses that word anyway?), you lose the chance to pass on all you’ve learned.

You seem to have had a successful career. Why are you keeping it to yourself by imposing all these obstacles?

Dictionary.com (wait, you are familiar with the internet, right?) lists one definition for curmudgeon that fits our friend Ms. Summar to a tee:

“a crusty irascible cantankerous old person full of stubbon ideas”

Maybe *that* is why the “youths” don’t want to hang out with you….

(P.S. I’d actually written a different post for today, but reading Ms. Summar’s article fired me up so much I bumped it for another day.)

Now that’s Rasquache

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I had a pretty good laugh upon reading the ABQjournal this morning. I love our fair New Mexico. As hard as we try to play with the bigs, trumpeting articles like “Santa Fe Named No. 2 for Artists” (never mind my childish potty humor over using “No. 2” in a headline…..) showing we’ve got class, there is always another article to show just how small town we still are.

I’m referring to this article, “Albuquerque May Get Tricky With Red Light Cameras”. I’ve read over the past few weeks the articles discussing the future of the cameras. Lots of folks are understandably unhappy with them. I’ve only given half an eye to those articles because where I live now, the San Francisco Bay Area, red light cameras are prevalent and have been for the better part of the ten years I’ve lived here. I don’t like them anymore than anyone else, but they are just part of life. I’ve been cheering the good fight put on by the folks of New Mexico, but I know it is, in the end, a losing battle.

The article states, “City officials are talking about shutting down the camera operations at some of the most successful intersections but leaving the apparatus in place, making it appear as if the device still works.”

What’s happening there? Not enough funding to run the systems? Or not enough funding to have enough people to review the photos? I understand that is the most time consuming part, having people analyze the photos. The article states that some $6 million has been taken in since the program’s inception in late 2004 (which seems low to me for a two year span given tickets here will run you $280, but what do I know?).

“‘We are coming to a point in the program where you evaluate,’ police spokesman John Walsh said.”

Evaluate what? Money? Effectiveness? They report that accidents are down at the main intersections where this is being used. What’s to evaluate about that?

The best part is that they are TELLING us they are doing it. Those wacky APD folks sure are wily!


They don’t outright say it, but the plan to move the cameras to other intersections and leave inoperable shells behind has got to be a cost saving maneuver. For a program that’s taken in over $6M.

That’s like when your kid has a toothache….instead of taking your kid to the dentist, tying a string to a doorknob and yanking that sucker.

That’s like using tin foil for curtains in your house.

That’s like using a wooden cable spool for your dining table.

Fake intersection cameras. Now THAT’S rasquache.

God I love New Mexico. The more we try to big league it, the more our true nature shows. I’m proud to be a New Mexican…….I really am.

I raise bailing wire and duct tape in a salute to Mayor Martin Chavez and the APD for this fabulous traffic accident saving idea.

Let’s keep it on memory lane

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All the talk lately about Governor Richardson running for president has had me thinking about the men who have occupied the governor’s seat in New Mexico. It’s funny, I lived there from the early 70’s through the 90’s and off the top of my head I can only remember two (though there were more).

Toney Anaya. He served from 1983 to 1987. That was when I was in high school. My mom used to call him Toney Annoy-ya. He was this little nebbish of a man. To be honest, the only thing I remember about him is that in the waning days of his leadership, he commuted every death sentence in the state to life in prison. Oh man, were there some hostile folks about that. New Mexico is traditionally a very Democratic state. But there is a good portion of New Mexico (farmers and ranchers, mostly) that are as conservative as heck. My dad was an engineer and as is traditional for the engineering folk, also incredibly conservative. He leaned so far to the right I’m surprised he didn’t flop over when he walked. Thankfully one of his offspring (me) has turned out quite moderate. I can even walk in a straight line. I remember when this whole thing went down with Anaya he would fume and talk back to the television when the news was reporting about the details. At the time I remember thinking it was a pretty compassionate thing to do, but wondered how we’d pay for it all. Governor Anaya certainly left an impression on the state. On me too, it seems.

The other one I remember is Bruce King. He served from 1971 to 1975 and again from 1979 to 1983 and then again from 1991 to 1995. No wonder I remember him so well, he was governor for most of life. The memory I’m here to talk about today had to be from his first incarnation as governor. My memory is pretty fuzzy about my childhood, and so dates are tough, but there are certain memories that are vivid in the visuals. This is one.

I was in grade school, had to be maybe first or second grade. We went on a field trip to the capitol building in Santa Fe (“The Roundhouse”) and had a tour. I remember the state legislature was in session. We all had to go in and sit quietly and listened for a while. I can only say this from my memory…boooooring.

The tour continued and we went on to the office of the governor. I remember standing around when the teacher and other adults suddenly got twitterpated. Without warning the largest, loudest man I’d ever seen in my life in the biggest brownest polyester suit emerged from some hidden doorway and came out to greet the children. Many of the kids ran to him and hugged his leg. I had zero idea who the hell that was (I was always a head in the clouds kind of child) and I sure as hell wasn’t going to hug a man that scared me senseless.

He came around to us, one by one, patting heads (in hindsight, kind of like a priest). I remember when he patted my own head he stank of cigar smoke. He scared me even further up close. I have sensitive ears and that guy was *loud*.

I’ve included a photo I found on the web at the end of this post. I have no idea of the date of that photo but I can say he makes Bill Clinton look small in that photo, and Clinton is no tiny man.

I think that brief meeting of a “man of power” at a young age sort of tinged my view of all governors…and maybe presidents too. I expect them to be all verbose, bluster and polyester. I may not be too far off the mark.

Anyone had the chance to meet Bill Richardson? What’s he all about? Shoot me a comment or an email, I’d love to know.

When memories reach up and grab you

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Lately I’ve been on quite a jag of reading the works of one noble New Mexico left handed cowboy poet named Baxter Black. He’s a good friend of my “adopted dad” (my best friend’s father). I had the chance to meet him once back in college and I’ve heard stories of his 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 from a few years back. It was one of the books of his NPR material called “Horseshoes, Cowsocks and Duckfeet”. One selection from that book is called “Lake Valley”.

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 event. That’s the staying power of Lake Valley.

In fact, back in college I used to go to Lake Valley with my best friend. She’s the one who turned me on to it. Her parents used to come along with us too, having danced at Lake Valley back in the day (and probably along with Bax). I remember at the dance they used to give you 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 point to our gang, tell ’em that was his family, throw ’em a twenty at the door and we’d all get in.

You know, in our way, we were (and are) family.

The way Bax describes Lake Valley in his writing is just how I remember it. Though when I was going, a band called The Rounders were the ones playing 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. Ok, imagine that…but with no desks and a lot more years on it and that’s pretty much how it used to look. 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 and we had to dance in a long oval. Like Bax said, the floorboards give under your feet and after all the years they weren’t particularly even, so you had to mind your feet, but oh was it a hell of a good time.

I’ve never felt quite so free, happy and in touch with the simple easy joys in life. 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 the ice chest for food, beverages and the telling of a few good stories.

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

Image from Living Ghost Towns.

The sound of crickets chirping…

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In my head. Oh god, all day long when I ponder what will be my blog entry for today, all I hear are crickets. (Go here if you are aurally challenged and need help imagining the sound. I did.)

It is day nine of blogdom for me and I’m more than embarrassed to admit I don’t have any good ideas for a post today. So I’ll post about my lack of post, how’s that?

When I set out (just over a week ago) the ideas flowed easily. I’m not ashamed to admit I’m pretty proud about how things are going so far. As I mentioned in the beginning, this blog starts out as a source of good discipline for me as a writer. And today I’m up against one of my demons as a writer. “Eh, I don’t have a good idea, so I’ll not bother to even write.”

This is bad. It victimizes great writers every day.

For the past few years I’ve participated in National Novel Writing Month, an exercise in which you force yourself to write 50,000 words in thirty days for the sheer challenge of doing so. I’ve done it twice and won both times. Mainly because I learned this about myself: I work great under a tight deadline. When the race is on and there’s “something in it”, I’m all over it.

But my momentum tends to lag when there isn’t a carrot out there that I’m running toward.

That’s the discipline I’m working on. I’m an amateur writer working on growing my chops. I see how far I’ve come in the almost ten years since I set out to honestly focus on writing, and I can sure see how far I’ve yet to grow.

They say, “write what you know” and writing about New Mexico fits that bill. So far I’m having a good time with this. I hope over time I can get some eyes here that aren’t just family and friends (though I’m incredibly grateful to any family member or friend who is giving me a glance).

I love writing, I really do, and this blog, I’ve discovered, is actually harder to do than it seems. Not complaining. It was just surprising to me. I have some favorite bloggers that I’ve read over the years who complain about how much time a blog takes. I always thought, “pish posh, get with the posting!” Now I know better.

I’m having a fun time…despite the ever increasing volume of crickets in the noggin today.

I suppose I could blame the ABQjournal for having a slow Sunday, or New Mexico Magazine for having a slow month (the “home edition” always leaves me cold, I flipped through it in record time today). But that’s just all excuses. And the time has come to stop making excuses.

Today, I write. Look at that….you can squeeze a whole post outta nothing to write about!