Sunday, July 19, 2009

Things I'll miss about Albuquerque...

We are almost a month away from moving to Austin, TX. As the date nears, I'm taking a more discerning look at Albuquerque and appreciating all this area has to offer.

I've lived in Albuquerque for the past three years of my life. It was a bumpy transition from Chicago to here in 2006 - Mike and I had just been together for a few months and were moving in together in a new town, I had just left a group of amazing friends, a great job, and found my self in the land of adobe, tumbleweeds, kitche Route 66, and vistas without a clue how to make it all work. To add some 'spice' to my situation, I additionally had a health issue that emerged (while w/out health care) and my mom in Maryland was diagnosed with breast cancer. A lot for anyone to stomach, let alone all at once in a new and unusual area.

It takes a really grounding place to keep one's life stable during a turbulent time. One by one, each of life's dilemmas worked themselves out, and through the process I started figuring out what matters: enjoying life, being kind, having fun, adding value to others' lives, and not taking oneself so seriously.

Finding myself was part of the process. Literally I also morphed into a different twist of me - pescatarian for almost 2 years, agnostic, flaming liberal, second tattoo, etc. This area helped me sift out some things I wanted and didn't want to be moving forward.

Things I'll miss about New Mexico the most or just general Albuquerque classics:
  • The mountain - how humbling to wake up to a snow-capped mountain and understand why it is called Sandia (watermelon) at sunset each day.
  • Artwork - the city oozes with creativity and quirkiness. Whether giant-sized sculptures of Paul Bunion, murals, carved tree stumps in a sunflower field, to day of the dead folk art, it is hard to not feel inspired here.
  • Balloons - every morning around sunrise the horizon is speckled with gumdrops ascending towards the sky or gently floating down towards the Rio Grande and tree tops. Around Balloon Fiesta, you become accustomed to laying in bed and hearing the primal hissing sound of gas burners guiding a balloon over your house. Or watching colorful shapes morph and grow out of fields to then ride an invisible escalator to the sky - gorgeous.
  • Outdoors - whether hiking Tent Rocks, La Luz trail, Pecos river-side camping or even up around Durango, this region is gorgeous. I hope it remains a secret and the people who think it is in Mexico, remain thinking they need a passport to get here and never come.
  • Quirky - Albuquerque is brilliantly weird and understanding its charm is something earned not given away. Small mountain towns in Madrid and Tijeras with funky saloon bars... colony in Taos of hippie Earthship dwellers... alien influences at Roswell or Taos hum... monster trucks, roadrunners, haunted Press Club... it's all here, you just gotta find it.
  • Food - smoked green chile is divine. Breakfast burritos are an art form. Pinon coffee - delightful. And it all tastes better looking at the amazing views in town.
I could go on forever with this list. Albuquerque is special. I hope Austin will be equally as queer and brilliant. There's one way to find out... that reminds me, I better get back to packing.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Cryptic 4th

The pomp and circumstance associated with the 4th feels ill-suited to me now that I reside in the Southwest.
(Picture at right:

Growing up outside of DC, it was hard to not feel as though you're part of the political machine. On a middle school field trip, we stood next to Hillary Clinton and heard her address a small crowd on the Hill. When you live near DC, you ooze with self-importance because you feel so close to it all - or maybe it is just the East Coast attitude.

In Albuquerque, local news usually isn't national / international news, and I feel more in touch with the real roots of this country - the people who founded it after crossing over the Bering Strait and lived in harmony nature and the land.

When driving home from work the other day, I passed a private school on Paseo del Norte with a sign posed out front, 'Happy Birthday America'. This sign reminded me of East Coast culture and relative perspective on our country's history. It didn't dawn on me until visiting Santa Fe and enjoying local history, that I realized how my childhood field trips to Williamsburg and Jamestown pail in comparison to our Country's true founders - conquistadors, native tribes, etc.

Although I 'get' the fun associated with the 4th - watching fireworks and sitting on lawn chairs imported from Shanghai, drinking a beer brewed in Mexico - like Thanksgiving, I find it hard to get puffed up over this holiday.