Is That What I Think It Is?

A few weeks ago I was walking out to my car after another real long day at work, when I smelled something a little sweet, a little nice, and a little out of place for a corporate parking lot.

My head whipped around and I saw a rather large burly man sitting on a parking berm next to his motorcycle and he was smoking.

Yes, I live in the Bay Area, but no, you cheeky monkeys, it wasn’t skunk weed that I was smelling…

The man was smoking a clove cigarette.

My first thought was “What, is he in High School?” and my second thought was “What, is he a girl?” and then the smell of sweet clove smoke wafted over me and I was shoved into the Wayback Machine and transported back in time.

So there I am, a sophomore at Del Norte High School and it’s after a football game and my friends and I have found our way to the McDonald’s at the corner of Academy and San Mateo in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

That McDonald’s belonged to our high school. Every high school had their “home” McDonald’s and going to the other school’s home territory, especially on a Friday night, was a whole scary and political thing.

So I’d already supped on French fries (all that I could afford) and was standing out in the parking lot doing what sixteen year olds do: I was slouching and skulking and just being a lump of teenager.

I was kibitzing with my friend Stacy who was sort of a wild girl. She didn’t start out that way, but she turned that way pretty quick. She was small, dark haired, pretty and did this squinty eyed thing when she laughed which was terribly endearing.

Later, when we both tried out for the high school drill team and she made it and I did not (we had practiced together) and some distance came to our friendship. That and her affinity for drinking a lot of Everclear. I just couldn’t go there.

But on this night we were friends and hanging out and she pulled a cigarette from her purse and lit it up. It smelled funny.

She explained to me that it was a clove cigarette. This particular item was very, very illicit because clove smokes were (and are) illegal in the State of New Mexico. She explained this was due to the fact that clove cigarettes will make your lungs bleed.

She told me this tidbit in that urban legend sort of way that made me wonder if what she said was really true, all the while I believing it 100%. I was (and still am) fairly gullible if told a good story.

So Stacy encouraged me to take a drag. I hesitated, thoughts of bleeding lungs in my head and firmly believing that the second something illegal touched my lips my parents would immediately show up and all hell would break loose.

After waffling, in a rare bit of rebellion I went for it (yes, taking a drag from a cigarette was, at the time, MAJOR rebellion) and she told me to lick my lips after, tasting how sweet it was. And it was.

I’d been so naughty! So *bad*! It was terrifying and exhilarating all at once!

Fast forward just over a decade later and I found myself living in California and oh my! Clove cigarettes are perfectly legal here! So I did some cool slouch thing into the corner store and bought a pack and felt very sophisticated and rebellious and adult and on-my-own and Mary Tyler Moore hat in the air “you’re gonna make it after all!”

That pack lasted me several months until they dried out, and then I bought another just because I could. Every now and again on a lonely evening I’d pour an amber liquid over ice and sit on my front porch and smoke a clove and think about things.

Then, of course, a few years later my dad died from pulmonary fibrosis and smoking something that might make my lungs bleed seemed like a really bad idea.

Ok, meandering along the Wayback trail and getting to that train of thought quickly brought me right back to the here and now.

I sort of smiled at the big dude smoking a clove and inhaled deeply. It smelled so nice.

Such an unexpected scent to end my day.








With all thanks to a Random Word Generator for giving me a wayback prompt, in the form of the word clove, on this sunny Monday.


Image by Kriss Szkurlatowski and used royalty free from stock.xchng.




One Arrow, One Potential Fire, One Odd Day

So there I was on Tuesday last week minding my own business, doing that tippy-tappy computer thang that office drones do, when suddenly a message came across my email. It was one of those emails from the company PR group that goes out to every single dingle employee on the roster.

It was a short, clipped note that said something like: “…at 10 a.m. this morning, a juvenile was shot with an arrow at the [place that is really near where I work]. The shooter of the arrow has not been found. Local police are investigating and helicopters have been brought in to help locate the shooter.”

Well now there is something you don’t see every day at work. Um, a kid was shot with an arrow and that’s the reason why all the low flying helicopters overhead.

Weird! Thankfully the child wasn’t killed, it went through her leg.

I tried put it out of my mind. I mean, everyone was chattering about it in the halls and break room, speculating what may have happened and why. It’s just not normal.

Then, later in the afternoon, I was in the management staff meeting and strangely enough, the fire alarm went off. We all looked at each other for several beats and then went “ok, well…let’s go” and we all trooped outside.

A local fire engine was on scene quickly and we were standing around outside for about a half an hour. Which says this wasn’t a drill, it was the real thing.

Come to find out that the rooftop air conditioner had shorted out and tripped the alarm. So there is that.

Police, low flying helicopters, ladder truck. All in one day.

This is not another normal Tuesday at anyone’s job, right?

Oh, and I almost hit a wild turkey on my way down from the local hills where our main site is located. Stubborn turkey in the middle of the road was actually the most normal part of my day.

So far today, another Tuesday, seems to be shaping up normally, but I’m wary.

I got my eye on you, Wacky Tuesday!









Image from itslacedinsick, found on DeviantArt.com and used under a creative commons.




History Is Open to Interpretation

Just outside the town of Oñate, New Mexico, there is a statue of Don Juan de Oñate. According to the stories told by locals, this fellow wasn’t exactly a nice guy. He was known for, among other things, cutting the feet off the local Acoma Indians.

So when a statue was put up depicting the explorer near the town of Oñate, someone cut off his right foot and left a note saying “fair is fair.”

That truly New Mexico story has always amused me greatly. Mostly because so many people will quote history as though it is gospel truth. History books will say that Oñate was a great explorer and settler of many towns. A founding father, I guess, but not everyone agrees.

History depends on who is telling it.

I was reminded of this bit of statue-based controversy when I visited the town of Alajuela, which is Costa Rica’s second largest city. We stopped off there on the way to visit the Poas Volcano.

My friend and coworker who took me for the ride was raised in Alajuela, so she wanted to show me the town and the beautiful central park and Catholic church in the plaza.

We also visited the nearby park created to honor Juan Santamaria, Costa Rica’s national hero.

My friend is a very proud Costa Rican, so she walked me over to the statue so I could see.

Here it is:




As we gazed up at the statue, my friend laughed.

“It’s wrong,” she said.

As I’d spent the week trying to traverse English and Spanish, I thought I’d misheard her. So I said “what?”

She laughed harder. “The statue. It’s wrong.”

“What do you mean?”

So she told me the story as she’d learned in school. Roughly that Juan Santamaria had set fire to a building containing soldiers from Nicaragua, and by doing so (and dying in the act) it allowed Costa Rica to gain an advantage and win the battle.

However, she continued, Santamaria was only a boy, not a man, as depicted in the statue. He wasn’t actually a soldier, as depicted. And notoriously, he was unarmed when he went forward to set fire to the hotel where the other soldiers were holed up.

The only accurate part of the statue is the torch.

Other than that, it’s all wrong.

“But we love it anyway,” she laughed. “He’s our hero.”

History is in the eye of the beholder, but national pride is enduring.




Photo Copyright 2012, Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons license in the far right corner of this page. Taken with an iPhone 4s and the Camera+ app.



Steamy!

And sulpher-y too.

This is the crater of the Poas Volcano in Costa Rica.

I got very, very lucky that the winds were in my favor, revealing the gorgeous turquoise blue water below.

Evidently the volcanic soil nearby makes for delicious coffee. I’ll let you know, a bag managed to find its way into my suitcase.

Perhaps next week I’ll write about the epic backroads voyage I went on to get to the volcano. If I didn’t live it, I’d think I made it up.







Image originally published to Instagram May 17. Photo taken with an iPhone4s and the Camera+ and imported into Instagram.



There Might Be Something To This

On one of my free days while in the world class city of Singapore, The Good Man and I had occasion to visit a little touristy spot called the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum in Singapore’s Chinatown district.

It is a profoundly beautiful place, filled to the gills with statues of various forms of the Buddha.

Along one wall there was a display of what they called guardian Buddhas.

So, based on your sign under the Chinese Zodiac, there was a Buddha assigned to be your guide.

Ok, fair enough. Each guardian was rendered in a beautiful, colorful statue and surrounded by tiny Buddha statues.

So while I don’t always believe in stuff like the zodiac, Chinese or otherwise, I figure if there’s a benevolent entity who is going to be on the look out for my often troublesome self, well, why not give that at least a passing nod, hey?

I walked down the line of Buddhas, all gazing out into space, showing different hand and tool configurations.

All are beautiful. Kind looking. Strong. Compassionate.

Then I came across the Buddha that represents me:




Yeah. I, um, called him the Red Ass Buddha until The Good Man told me to cut it out since that’s disrespectful. I said most Buddhists I know are very calm and have a great sense of humor. He wasn’t buying it so I stopped.

But look at that face! The snaggly teeth. The blue skin. The stick in his hand and what is that? A cat-o-nine tails or something? And the flames? Oh the flames!

My goodness. He’s quite a high maintenance looking Buddha. It was sort of odd to see this guy as just the day prior I had well and truly ripped one of my under performing suppliers a brand new pooping chute. I had later felt a couple moments of remorse about it.

Then I saw this guy and was like “No, I was right to do what I did. Red Ass Buddha would approve.”

So I snapped a photo and put some money in the donation box under his area.

Then The Good Man and I moved on to the next guy. The guy who represents The Good Man:




Yeah. That calm guy. Hands all up in a mudra. Mellow colors in a shell behind him. Thoughtful.

That’s my man. To a tee.

Looking at these two statues sitting side by side became sort of a metaphor for our relationship.

Me all red ass and reaching out with that bapping stick to whack some folks around. The Good Man all calm, thoughtful and serene. The yin to my yang.

Maybe, perhaps, kinda sorta there might be something to this whole Chinese zodiac thing?



Images Copyright 2012, Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons license in the far right column of this page. Taken with an iPhone4s and the Camera+ app.