Monthly Archives: November 2014
A long time ago my college tested us students so we would know what professions to pursue. I scored highest in law and social work and lowest in dietitian and home economics teacher. Since I spent awhile yesterday looking for photos of me preparing Thanksgiving meals or even me in the kitchen and found a total of three, one of which I posted yesterday, the other two which follow, I must admit the test may have been at least partially true.
A thousand years ago visiting “The Old Place” before mom and dad stopped farming. Sitting on the woodbox next to the kitchen stove smoking a cigarette. Must admit it was pleasurable.
However I did not become a lawyer either; I did become a social worker but didn’t like it. Forget that test. Writing is what I do. Not great writing. Not salable writing. Not silly writing. Not bad writing either. Writing. It’s a job. Or anyway I want it to be. However I have one of those 40-hour week jobs already. One I like quite a lot. It is interesting, rewarding for me and actually has meaning for the community.
So then, that must be two jobs. Most of my life has been taken up with two or even three jobs at a time so I’m mostly okay with that. I’ve figured it out—early mornings, some evenings, most weekends for one, 8-5 for the other.
Trouble only arises when a long weekend comes along. I wait anxiously for it to arrive. I make lists that account for every potential writing hour. The evening before I shower, put out my best writing clothes (flannel pajamas for winter/cut-off flannel pajamas for summer), the coffeepot is ready to plug in for that fresh brewed smell and I sleep well.
Morning comes. I’m rested, a hot cuppa in my hand. I freeze…incapable of thinking words, sentences, paragraphs. Instead I think about reorganizing the back porch, how the kitchen shelf needs reinforcement, there’s the Christmas list, old photos to organize for further restoration, unswept front porch, grocery list, light bulbs to replace….
So I’m pretty sure what proves I actually am a writer is that after those thoughts flit through my mind, even making it onto a list, I can actually sit down and write. Cheating a little here as this is my easy blog day and I’m putting off paying attention to that elusive book by writing a—well, yes, silly—morning blog post. Now to the computer to see how much of what I’ve written about my obsessive Norwegianness is actually usable for Part One of Up North.
Morning post, coffee, a lecture on Frost over. Putting a splash (big splash) of Bailey’s in this morning’s last cup of coffee. I mean it is a holiday, right?
I’ve been doing what I said! Organizing projects which get out of control and multiply in stacks of paper and books on every table so I somewhat obsessively rearrange the stack and feel that work has been done and there you have it in one very long sentence.
Almost backed out of the walk until my California son called assuming it was already a done deal—so I put on my sneakers, took my camera and did a turn down by the ponds and the bike path and the Bosque. Very nice. Thanks Scott.
It’s 5:15pm now and feels like a very useful and pleasant time has been had by all. Especially me. I did organize my travel library AND made it almost through Ginsberg. In fact listened to “Howl” just before I went to the river. I really need to hear the lectures on this one. Of course lines and pieces of it are part of the language of our lives but only in small doses. I’ve never studied it in its entirety. What better time than later this evening.
Back later. Here’s the Bosque Thanksgiving afternoon 2014.
Albuquerque New Mexico. Thanksgiving Day 2014. Low 60s predicted. Most of the cottonwoods along the river have shed their leaves so today’s walk will be on a crunchy path through a tawny-brown-gray landscape underneath the brightest of blue skies. I think the river will also be brown and slow as the Rio Grande always is down here—only up in the canyons below Taos is it blue and frisky.
Can I please establish though, right here, right now, that as a peripheral introvert I will grouse and mumble throughout the day because it is how I am. That is not because I want to be in a crowded room with too many people and too much predictable food with the merry sounds of big stupid guys running back and forth on a field to the cheers of their demented followers. Quite the opposite. I grouse because I can.
Although I will admit that if a catering van pulled up about 1PM, raced in, whisked a white linen cloth and heavy silverware into place, placed fresh flowers in the middle, set down a giant bowl of sage-seasoned, celery and onion enriched, butter infused bread stuffing and a pan of buttery cinnamony mashed sweet potatoes with the marshmallows all melted and gold-toasted on top, and poured a nice glass of champagne for me it would be okay. But in a contest between stuffing and solitude, solitude wins!
Albuquerque was born on the banks of the Rio Grande and grew up climbing the Sandia Mountains. Now in November it’s cool and sunny down by the river where I live (elevation 4900 feet or so) and cold and sunny up here in the beginning of the foothills where son Steven and family live (over 6000 feet high). So why aren’t we called the Mile High City? Because we are the Duke City, after the Duke of Alburquerque (spelling intentional) from Spain or Portugal. I think.
Steven is spending the weekend in Portland, Oregon where Michele sometimes works so I’m hanging out with Sara the Cheerleader here at home…her home last night, then my home tonight, then her home before Monday morning school. We’ll journey back and forth through the climates of Albuquerque—from my Tingley Beach ducks to bear-spotting up here in the wilds of the Heights as this part of town with its mostly Anglo population, a bigger middle-class and more Republicans is called.
I am not so fond of the Heights. It lacks character; no flavor of a New Mexico almost equally divided between its Anglo and Hispanic citizenry, or the strong presence of the original Native American New Mexicans. Even the small but active African American population doesn’t seem present up here. It is, as I said, very white, very middle-class, very conservative. I’m happy to say my kids are among the Democratic minority up here. Still they like it and my granddaughters have had the benefit of some of the better public schools in Albuquerque—and better cheerleading squads!
I prefer the Valley. My granddaughter asks, “Why do you live in the ghetto, grandma?” Really, dear? Property values in my ‘ghetto’ are higher than most of the uptown blocks. But our downtown scruffiness is more obvious. And charming in its own way. We are seriously multi-cultural downtown/Old Town…more rich people (out along the Rio Grande a little farther), more poor people, more Latinos, Native Americans, gays, Democrats, artists, homeless people, more…us.
Watching ABC Family and “Holes.” It’s what one does with the granddaughter that’s still a mid-teen and lounging about between cheering for the game last night and going to practice this afternoon. Besides I quite like “Holes.” She was going to watch “Gray’s Anatomy” but fortunately could not get Netflix to work this morning. I’m not sure I could handle that…watched for a season years ago but it did not grow on me like “Orange is the New Black” for example.
Now it’s evening. We’ve had a fine Whole Foods dinner. Pasta, a roasted happy chicken, Cranberry baguette and oatmeal raisin cookies. And back to TV. “The Hunger Games,” which I’ve missed until now. I do like Jennifer Lawrence finally but am not at all enamored of the film. Didn’t think I would be but with so much attention there was always the possibility. So that’s today.
Although I claim not to like most (maybe all) holidays there are some aspects of holiday-making that are quite wonderful. Not going to work and candied sweet potatoes and bread stuffing are the main ones.
There are also those few wonderful hours at the at the heart of a celebration when the whole world is quiet…but then Black Friday or the Peace-On-Earth Christmas Evening Blowout or the Christ-Arose Easter Night Shopping Marathon kicks in. Or alternately the crack of heads and clang of beer cans as football practices its tacky magic on America’s psyche.
Actually, for peripheral introverts there is virtually nothing besides being off work and the sweet potatoes and stuffing that is meaningful about holiday celebrations as they currently exist.
Peripheral Introverts aren’t necessarily grumpy, even though we occasionally seem that way! I, for example, have holiday plans which will not involve big groups, worrying about money, feeling depressed or eating too much—although I will continue to miss my mother because that’s what I do on special occasions.
In fact I have plans for my own holidays which only a few of my closest family, friends and comrades will be invited to share. But more about all that later.
The purpose of today’s post is really to introduce this new series which will be brought to you throughout The Big Winter Shopping Event called Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year. The Holiday Report will alternate Coming of Age posts, all intended to cheer you up by talking about excessive spending and old age. After all I was not put on this earth for happy chatter and sugar plum dancing.
There seems to be a general agreement that grandchildren are sources of unabashed pleasure and uncritical love as well as offering great fun; Grandparenthood is indeed an exciting title to hold.
I’ve written about my four remarkable (aren’t they all!) grandchildren before and now as they become interesting and diverse adults I’ll write even more. Sure, they may be embarrassed from time to time, but isn’t that one of the things they should expect from dear old granny after all.
Anyone who reads my blogs already knows this but here it is again. There are four grandchildren: two from California, two from Albuquerque. Steven, my California grandson gets a whole story pretty soon as I had the rare pleasure of five weeks of travel with him as my constant companion. I’m sure it will never happen again because they’re all too busy and involved in their lives but it was great while it lasted.
However there are multitudes of delightful small opportunities of which I intend to take more and more advantage. So be warned dear ones, I could appear at any moment!
Which is what happened to Patricia this weekend. Lubbock where she goes to college isn’t very far away and it is so very much fun to hang around with these interesting people called grandchildren in their natural habitats.
Patricia is the eldest Albuquerque granddaughter—in many ways the artist of the whole bunch. She has always been a drawer, painter, crafter and designer and intends to take that into a major in architecture and minor in design. She loves houses and the things that occupy them; is a great fan of Pinterest and brightens up our spaces with the ideas she finds and makes her own.
Patricia and her California cousin Steven are also the talky ones in the family; both are articulate, argumentative and sociable. These two kids/young adults are the personable ones that could probably talk you out of or into pretty much anything. Not that Teresa and Sara aren’t equally personable, just in a little different (but equally appealing let me hasten to add) way.
Patricia is hostessing at a Mexican restaurant on or right next to the campus of Texas Tech, living with four other girls in a nice student house, and getting all of her basics out of the way at Plains College. She has structured her life much as her mom and dad, who are both pretty organized people, would do. Times and places for everything and it seems to work well for her.
It is so amazing to me that my grandchildren all seem so self-confident and poised when I was so the opposite. Of course I know that they all have their own insecurities and worries too, still they seem so together for the most part. Patricia is so natural and easy around friends, family and the general public alike. Wish I could have been like that at that age. Wish I had that much poise now actually.
How very lovely it is to be able to spend my time with these great kids from time to time. Like all grandparents, I’m so proud of them…forgive me for bragging a bit now and then.
I just finished reading Midnight in Siberia: a Train Journey into the Heart of Russia by NPR’s David Greene.
I read it because I’m very curious about Russia and plan to take the Trans-Siberian Express, St. Petersburg to Vladivostok, next summer. Turns out it was a good choice for a read that concluded on election night.
Greene talks about the longing for the good old days of the USSR. Not by everyone but by what seems to be a substantial percentage of Russian citizens. And why, even though the general public doesn’t appear to be that fond of Putin, they continue to support him.
It’s all about the complications of change. Russia tried that briefly with Yeltsin; the economy tanked and no one knew quite what to do with all those complicated choices and their uncertain results. Meanwhile Putin is limiting choices and passing out the simple answers. Which seem to boil down to ‘shut up and do what I say.’ He’s the strong man on the white horse—bare-chested and with a big gun to boot.
It is complicated, isn’t it? All over the world. It’s why so many countries are veering right. The far right and the far left always have the simple answers. But as one tilts to either direction from the middle—it seems to me—in the US at least—the answers get increasingly simplified as one moves right and ever more complicated as one moves left.
I believe everything is extremely complicated. Can you honestly give me a simple solution to the problems of climate change, radical Islam versus the rest of the world, fanatical Christianity versus the rest of the world, immigration, poverty, disease, xenophobia…?
But a bunch of (mostly) white people, many with big guns, none bare-chested so far though, have put out a lot of the ‘shut up and listen to my simplistic answer’ verbiage. A whole bunch of them won yesterday.
Hey, we’re all a lot or a little bit scared. And in a world that values education less and less we desperately need simple answers. I am a Democrat because we believe more strongly in the value of education and can deal with a little more complexity. And I’m not that crazy about Putin. And I’m pretty sure the good old days aren’t coming back.
I have had a job/been employed/gone to work for approximately 50 years. Or, to put it more depressingly, I have gotten up and gone to work 2600 Monday mornings.
True, some Mondays are better than others. Today was not in the ”better’ category. Didn’t sleep last night, eye infected, work is work, didn’t perform as vigorously as desired in abs class–is this what is called a ‘piss and moan’ moment?
On the good side, I’m formally entering the UCLA Creative Nonfiction Writing Certificate Program. And I googled TransSiberian Express trips/costs/visas, etc. and that all looks possible. So that makes me happy. I guess it’s all okay.
Now let me find a photo to attach.