In the Box

  • 6 Comments

Despite the fact that The Good Man and I actually moved two weeks ago, we didn’t fully depart the old place until this past weekend.

That last mile is a sonofabitch.

I guess we just wanted to save the best for last? Or something. Basically, the last stuff to exit the old place was the stuff from deep in the dark recesses of storage under the house.

Let’s be honest, this stuff it wasn’t “our” stuff, it was my stuff. Lots and lots of boxes, some of which hadn’t been opened since they made the 1,200 mile ride from Albuquerque to the Bay Area.

The goal this weekend was to open those deteriorating boxes, get rid of what I could, and what was left, repack into fresh boxes and move on.

This proved to be a more difficult task than I had expected.

There were some surprises in those ol’ boxes. Especially the one I’d jauntily labeled “Karen’s Childhood.”

What a doozy that one was.

Sunday morning, there I sat on the cold floor of my now former garage, used my Buck knife to slice open the “childhood” box and dug around in there. I extracted a now almost fourteen year old gallon size Ziploc bag containing a bunch of papers and stuff I clearly didn’t know what to do with when I left Albuquerque.

I unzipped the bag, pulled out the contents and went through it piece by piece. I turned over photos, old love notes, and a ticket stub.

I gasped and my eyes got a little watery from both joy and memory.

The Wayback Machine gobbled me whole.

Here’s what I found:




The year was…um….yeah. 1990? Maybe 1989? Oh jumping jehosophat! I don’t know. A long time ago when my skin was elastic and my pants were not.

It was Ag Week at NMSU. An annual celebration that was a week full of fun, games, and dancing for all us kids in and around the Ag College. It culminated in a big concert and dance at the Pan Am center on the last day of the week.

This was a special year. My best good friend excitedly told me that her Uncle Bax would be performing at that year’s Ag Week. And by Uncle Bax, she meant Cowboy Poet and legendary New Mexican, Baxter Black.

That year there was another yahoolio on the bill with Bax. Some nobody named Vince Gill.

Yeah. That Vince Gill. Before anyone knew who he was.

Friday morning we were invited to come to the Ag Lobby to meet and greet. Bax was there holding court and signing autographs, and gave my best friend a huge hug when she walked up. We talked and laughed with Bax a while and then we went over to check out this Vince Gill character. He was wearing a pair of NMSU sweatpants, a three day old scruffy beard, and hair that hadn’t been washed in a good long while.

He was nice enough. Looked totally exhausted. He signed a glossy black and white promo photo (I found that in the bag too) and we walked away wondering who that rube was.

He put on a hell of a show that night. And so did Uncle Bax.

Let’s just say this, it was a hell of a party.

One for the history books. Sure would be fun to live that one again.

When the trash went out at the end of Sunday, the Bax and Vince ticket didn’t go with it. It went back into the Ziploc bag, then into a new box.

Maybe in another fourteen years I’ll slice open that box and discover it again.

And gasp.

And well up.

And remember.

Those were salad days, indeed.



Silence

  • 3 Comments

I’m heartbroken over the news of the passing of Etta James.

Forget “I Will Survive”, that’s for amateurs.

Her music is the ultimate “helps me feel strong when I feel weak.” I have both sat and cried and stood and danced listening to her music.

She will be missed. Through her incredible library, never forgotten.




Feliz Dia de los Muertos

  • 4 Comments

Today, I offer this beautiful virtual ofrenda so that we all may take a minute and remember those who have passed on into the next world.

On this day of both sorrow and celebration, the veil is just a little bit thinner.




Today I remember my four grandparents, my father, my best friend from high school, my dear college friend, and yes, even Steve Jobs.

May we all take a moment today to remember those whom we have loved and lost.

Feliz Dia de los Muertos to us all.

Virtual pink pastries and sugar skulls for everyone who passes this way on their journey.



Photo from kalavinka‘s Flickr Photostream and used under the Creative Commons license, as granted on the applicable Flickr page.


How Did I Get Here?

  • 10 Comments

Yesterday was not what I’d call an ordinary day by any definition.

Let’s roll back a few days to give you the backstory.

On Friday I stood shoulder to shoulder with my best friend inside an auction barn in Las Cruces. We tried to talk over the drone of an auctioneer and watched the local 4H kids walk their animals around a pen while local businessmen bid up the price.

On Tuesday, I stood on the show floor of one of the largest IT conventions in the US, surrounded by the drone of booth workers shouting out to passerby as I tried my very best to be all business.

I have to say, it was a bit disorienting. I guess that 180 degree turn in the span of just five days is the closest example I can get of who I am. Both auction barn and big corporate.

Yesterday was my second day attending the show and I was doing my best to stay grounded in the midst of the chaos that is any trade show.

While waiting for a morning meeting, I idly checked my email on my iPhone. I saw a note from one of my aunts letting me know that a dear uncle of mine had passed away. He had gone through a long and valiant battle with cancer, and for a while he got topside on that demon. Sadly, just yesterday he lost the fight.

I was instantly crushed and heartbroken. I couldn’t begin to imagine how my aunt must be managing. I’d sat with my mom in the days after my dad passed, and I know that for a woman to lose her husband of 40-plus years is a long, sorrowful journey. It is a world turned upside down.

Glancing at the clock, I saw it was time to go, so I put on my game face and got back to work.

Later I had to meet with a Senior VP of the company who demands answers as he fires off questions from a fire hose and I do my best to keep up. He’s brilliant but irascible.

After I finished with Mr VP, it was off to another meeting with a telecom carrier, and then a hardware manufacturer, and then…and then…..

It was a brutal day and I had gotten up extra early to get to San Francisco through morning traffic and suddenly the lack of sleep caught up with me. My legs and back ached.

But I pushed forward.

When the day was mostly over, it was time to go to the big celebration to close the show, a huge event put on over at Treasure Island.

I changed clothes in a dingy bathroom and then set out for the meet-up spot to catch a shuttle bus. I got myself turned around and walked about three blocks in the wrong direction, only to turn and walk back against of tide of city people at the end of their day.

I was tired, sweaty, in pain and generally DONE with the day when my iPhone buzzed. The Good Man conveyed to me the sad news about Steve Jobs.

As I had worked for the man for a decade, I felt a certain affinity for him and at that moment, it was the straw that broke me.

I leaned against a mailbox on New Montgomery street, while cars honked, police officers directed traffic and busses coughed fumes, and I cried.

I cried because after traveling then working at this show, I am worn down to a nub. I cried because I did a terrible job of comforting my godkids last week as I found myself at a loss to explain why their pigs had to die. I cried because my uncle was a good man with a good life but grief never gets easier. I cried because the passing of a legend means the end of a very profound era.

It’s just a little to much death in too short a time frame.

Sometimes when it’s all built up inside you and the pressure cooker is about to blow, and you’ve found the end of your tether, crying is just a real good way to let off some steam.

It only lasted a few minutes. Then I straightened my spine, threw my shoulders back and walked ahead to meet my boss because he’s in town from London and had terrible jet lag. He relied on me to help get him to the right shuttle. And my supplier expected me to “say some words” to the team. And every one expected me to be adult and professional when I felt anything but.

Thankfully I met up with a couple friends out on the island. They handed me beer and gave me nodding, knowing looks.

And today, while still sad, I’m trying to be myself again.

Or in the immortal words of Stevie Ray Vaughan, I’m “walking the tightrope/both day and night”






Image from Agent Faircloth