Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Endurance of Mutability

I know, I know. If nothing ever changed, there would be no butterflies. But look, Party People, I don't think the process is very pretty.

This is a fuzzy wuzzy caterpillar that showed up in my house two weeks ago. It attached itself to an end table leg in my living room. I thought it would be gone the next day. But no. It was still there. And it seemed, well, sorta out of it. Like it had partied way too hard the night before with all its caterpillar buddies and was now busily sleeping it off.

The next day, though, not only was the caterpillar still there, it looked different. Less caterpillar-like and more, well, you'll see.

A couple more days go by and then one morning, voila! it somehow managed, while I wasn't looking, to cocoon itself. Right there in my living room.

This always happens come, spring, I swear. Suddenly, my entire household and its environs turns into a freakin' Nature Channel program.

This morning I poked at the cocoon. It's fuzzy but not squishy, and now I'm wondering if the thing isn't a cocoon so much as a tomb. I hope not. I would like a beautiful butterfly to emerge. But with my luck, it may be something disgustingly creepy-crawly. If that's the case, it better do so in the middle of the night and then creepy-crawl it's ugly ass outta here before I wake up.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Glitter on the Front Porch, Glitter on the Hallway

I have loved the B-52's since my best high school buddy introduced me to them in my junior year. First of all, there was that innovative sound - an effervescent concoction that melded New Wave, surf punk, and rockabilly into something so irresistible, that feet everywhere, across the universe and beyond, couldn't help but get up and dance. Secondly, they looked simply fabulous.

In fact, to this day, lead singer Kate Pierson stands as one of my fashion icons, proving, along with Debbie Harry and Stevie Nicks, that instead of ravaging your looks, the rock and roll lifestyle can in some instances render you ageless.

The gal just turned sixty, y'all. Respect.

Friday, May 23, 2008

No Right

We stand at a critical philosophical crossroads in this country. If we are indeed champions of religious freedom, even if that religion seems archaic and weird and most certainly unfashionable both literally and figuratively, then we cannot start throwing our weight around and tell that particular religious sect what they can and cannot teach their children.

Do we tell the Amish they're nutty for not driving cars?

How about the Jews for not eating pork?

The Catholics for the whole Trinity business?

The Mormons for la, la, la, la, la-ing through some of the silliest bedtime stories known to man?

Astrologists for not leaving the house without first consulting their daily chart?

Adherents to Chinese medicine who believe everything from ground bear tooth to obscure and rare plant life can cure whatever ails you, regardless of the harm harvesting said "therapies" causes to the natural environment?

And when was the last time you heard a bona fide court give an atheist shit for teaching their kids about the Big Bang?

That doesn't mean, of course, that anyone, religious or not, has the right to physically and/or sexually abuse their children. Reports of that kind should be investigated and pursued to the full extent of the law. But 460 children were removed from the FLDS compound in Texas last month based on nothing so much as a single allegation. There is no way all 460 of those kids suffered abuse. So one has to wonder: how much of this is about actual law and concern for a child's welfare, and how much of it is suppression of a religion that pushes all our buttons when it comes to the teeter/tooter relationship we have with religion in our so-called "enlightened" era?

I'm not a parent, but I have been a child and I can well imagine how utterly traumatic it must be for these parents and children to be separated like this. All because the Gub'ment of Texas thinks it knows what's best. Go ahead, investigate. But don't bust up hundreds of families just because you don't like how they define the concept.

If it were up to me? I'd remove every child from every parent who sticks their offspring in front of the television for more than a couple hours a day. Who indulges their child's every whim, so as not to play the bad guy. Whose level of maturity is so low, they have lost all ability to establish themselves as counselors, guides, and disciplinarians and morph instead into these warped best friend figures to the point of sporting similar hairstyles and belly-grazing crop tops (cough, Dinah Lohan, cough, cough).

But I don't have the right.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Black Hole Ate Moi's Homework

I read a statistic once that postulated that before we die, each of us spends on average, like, 1.5 bazillion hours of our lives either standing in line or waiting for service. Which is fine with me, because, hell, when else would I catch up on my crap magazine reading?

Some places, though, are better than others. At the top of my list: the Jiffy Lube on the corner of Menaul and Wyoming in Albuquerque's Northeast Heights. For a place run entirely by dudes, they nonetheless know their market and thus stock a wide variety of the best evah magazines ranging from the most up-to-date Peoples in existence (no six month lag for these guys, oh no) to Time, Newsweek, O, and even Vogue. Not a snooze-a-mooze parenting magazine in sight. No offense to parents, but really, if you're childless or empty-nested, not even the ads are interesting. And if you're a parent, I suspect the last thing you want to read about is even MORE parenting stuff. Admit it: You'd rather read about Jessica Simpson's botched boob job.

At the bottom of my list: my gyno. Whose magazine selection is all about the OB and never about the GYN. And if you're 5.7 minutes away from having yourself poked and prodded in that particular manner, you want aspirational magazines out in the waiting room. Not ones that remind you of why you're here. Listen, you OB/GYN magazine Nazis: we all know how we got here. So now, take us far, far away. Architectural Digest would be good. And heck, forget Vogue, if that's too much for you. Mademoiselle will do in a pinch. Can't go that girly? How about Golf magazine, fer crying out loud. But my gyno, despite my most gentle encouragements, never catches on. He just smiles and nods in that way that tells me when I open my mouth, all he hears is Charlie Brown's parents. Men.

Anyway, yesterday was doc appointment time por Moi and while in my dermo, I was happily heartened to spot this:

Nah, it wasn't Dwayne Johnson that caught my eye. Although I guess you could make a case for his sex appeal in that shiny-suited, head-to-toe reconstructed way today's porn stars are considered sexy, only minus the highlights and tacky-ass French manicure. I likewise spent only a couple seconds perusing Laird Hamilton's "Surf God Workout." Sweet jeebus, I thought only women were susceptible to fairytale bullshit about our bodies. The workout? Puhleeze. AB could eat Laird for lunch.

Nope, the article that caught my really real attention was on Garrett Lisi, a surf bum physicist who has come up with a totally new unifying theory of the universe that he calls E8, which basically says, String Theory, Schming Theory, where it's at is this: fitting together the four forces of physics — electromagnetic, strong nuclear, weak nuclear, and gravity — into an incredibly intricate shape that looks like something you might have created with your Advanced Spirograph kit in the fourth grade.

Another thing about Moi: I'm obsessed with the Big Picture. Every time one of those PBS specials on the universe comes on, I'm glued to the set. But this, ugh, I'm going to need years to grok to this particular bit of information. Go check it out for yourself and maybe together we can process all this into some cohesive understanding.

And while you're at it; riddle me this: Ever since S.B. installed satellite radio in the Mini Coop, it seems I hear Tori Amos's "Cornflake Girl", like, sixty bazillion times a day. So if you can get a finger's grasp on what Lisi is on to, can you perhaps explain to Moi just what in the hell the woman is talking about in this song?

Friday, May 16, 2008

Underrated Friday: Bearded Iris

Bearded iris (Iris germanica), while as ubiquitous in New Mexico gardens as cactus and Gramma grass, just doesn't get the attention it deserves. Drive through any Albuquerque neighborhood between March and May and you'll see stand after stand of this bomb-proof perennial beauty, blooming like crazy in every color of the universe. But everyone's ooh-ing and ah-ing elsewhere: over the roses because, hey, roses in the desert, that takes skill! Or over the show-offy lilac, with its grabby growth habits and heady, Vegas hooker scent. Or on the cactus because, well, you know, zeriscaping is the responsible thing to do.

Maybe we forget about the bearded iris because it is everywhere. Because it is easy to grow. Because it could never, ever rain again, ever ever, and the things would just go ahead and bloom anyway, eternally optimistic that tomorrow, tomorrow, the rain will fall.

But I also think we forget about them because we don't really look at them. From a distance, ooo, pretty. Up close, though, whoa. That's one weird-ass looking flower, beautiful, yes, but in a space-alien-meets-Helmut-Newton kind of way. And then there's the smell: a mixture of damp basement and warm licorice, which, given the flower's fertile form, strikes the nose as unexpectedly austere. Was it just by chance that Vincent van Gogh chose to immortalize the iris in over a half dozen paintings? I don't think so.

Bearded iris have been a perennial in my own garden for over ten years. Their rhizomes were given to me by an ex-client who said they'd been in his family's garden for twenty. He swore they were all deep purple, but each year I'm surprised with a new color - a lemony yellow, a weird burgundy/pink/peach. And I think I spy a couple apricot buds about to burst – a first ever.

I have come to love these flowers more than any other plant in the universe. If I were She, I'd write them a rap-ode. If I were Justin Timberlake, I'd dance a sexy dance in their honor. If I were a painter, I'd pluck them from van Gogh's garden and place them instead in a vase on the counter of some nameless Hopper-esque truck stop on Route 66, their bizarre beauty frozen for all time to give hope to ravage-voiced waitresses and speed-addled long distance haulers and anyone who appreciates the beauty of the bizarre.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Sheena Was A Punk Rocker

This post is in response to Aunty's polite request that I publish a photo of myself during my high school punk rock days. I regret to inform her, however, that I have no photos of said phase because, well, my high school days were PDE (pre-digital era) so it's not like everyone was snapping away madly at every single bit of daily life ephemera like they are today. Back then, photo-making was saved for occasions like holidays, weddings, birthdays, etc. And my dearly departed but oh-so-horrified mother was having none of that.

But to give you an idea, for about six months during the latter part of 1979, I was all:

Which is funny to many who know me because since I was a little girl, I have also been all:

And on occasion, all:

Hey, what can I say? Split personalities are for amateurs. Multiple takes skill.


But I can give Aunty an idea of said punk rock phase because I did a modified revisit of the look about 13 years ago. The blond only lasted about 10.8 minutes because if there's anything more difficult than becoming blond, it's staying blond. The cut, though, lasted 4-evah.

Well, at least long enough to totally make S.B., a Southern-Style Alpha Male who liked his wimmin big-haired, think twice about dating Moi. And then think twice some more. But, look! He's still here. Which just goes to show you, the man is a quick study.


I'm thinking of returning to that cut again because it will come in über handy if we climb Kilimanjaro in February. Six days without a shower is bad enough, but if I also start to grow dreadlocks because of it, you may as well shoot me forever. 'cause you all know how I feel about:

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Splash in the Bath or Roar in the Sea

Here's a question that has always puzzled me: why don't we buy more art?

We fill our homes with computers. Ipods. Big screen televisions. Video games. But when was the last time you or someone you know made a trip to a gallery, not just to browse or nod thoughtfully at the stuff hanging on the walls or perched on some pedestals, but to actually purchase something? Something that stirs you. Makes you think. Hits you in the gut or makes chocolate mousse out of your heart.

Maybe it's because most of us don't know squat about art. Which brings me to another question: why don't we teach art appreciation in our schools? Art is a language after all, just like mathematics. And like math, it serves an important function in helping us order and understand our world. Which means we really, really need artists, we need them as much as we need airline pilots and computer programmers and shoe makers. But artists don't create in a vacuum, you know. Michaelangelo, he was a genius, but he didn't paint for kudos. He painted for cold, hard cash.

So I'm going to have one of my bossy moments and order each and every one of you to go out and buy some art before the month is out. Then I want you to share it on your blob. And tell me what about it made you buy it. If you've done this recently, then tell me about that in the comments section to this post.

I'll start. Here is my most recent purchase:

Artist: Found here
Why I Purchased: I am drawn to the way in which she explores her relationship to the natural world. Sometimes this expression is exuberant and slyly humorous, like Otto above. Sometimes it is wistful and melancholy, hushed and almost holy. Like this:

Sometimes, her work tells stories of the places she's been, the music she's heard, the animals she's loved. I'm a sucker for narrative and for mood and for finding within myself that same feeling, sinking in a hook, and dragging it to the surface.

I'm also a sucker for pretty. And boy, can she do pretty:

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Shoe-ing at the Walls of Heartache

You know how you felt when you were a kid and your best friend in the whole wide world – the one who lived within walking distance, who also had a matching Schwinn Sting Ray bicycle with a sparkle-encrusted banana seat and shared your obsession with the Bay City Rollers and baby pink Luv-It jeans – went and left you high and dry in the middle of summer to go on vacation with their totally grody to the max family? Remember how it felt like all the good air had been vacuumed out of the world, like you were bobbing along, a buoy unmoored, on a vast ocean of flat, featureless days, one hand wrapped listlessly around a can of TaB, the other clutching the latest issue of Tiger Beat ("Leif Garrett's Top 5 Romantic Dates!"), but you were unable to muster enthusiasm for either of them because your best friend in the whole wide world wasn't there to share?

Well, that's how I feel when S.B. first leaves on a job. Restless, pouty, channeling my inner Catherine while two states away, S.B.'s inner Heathcliff is busy making the world safe for automatic coffee makers. And playing golf in the afternoons.

Eventually, I do manage to pull my head up off my desk and get back to work. And after work, I begin to realize with burgeoning glee that, hey, lookie there! I also have absolute, unequivocal, TOTAL control of the remote.

But I'll still have my moments. One of them occurred on Tuesday when, after a work appointment, I felt myself missing S.B. so much that the only cure was shoes. And not just any shoes, but shoes with a theme. Which totally goes against my better fashion judgement.

Usually, I stay away from trends. Well, except for those retro '80s cropped pea green parachute pants from the Gap I bought four seasons ago when I was channeling my inner Carrie Bradshaw. And that Trina Turk caftan top a few months ago because resistance to Boho, it seems, is futile. Besides, if nothing else, I can always channel my inner Joan Didion. Or Anne Sexton (but, I assure you,
not my inner Sylvia Plath).

So. Anyway. I went ahead and did it. I bought these.

I figure, I'm running for President. May as well channel my inner Joan of Arc, right? Either that or my inner Patty Smythe: "I am the warrior, and victory is mine. If I survive."

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Decisions, Decisions

For the past two years on the first weekend of August, I've run the La Luz Trail Run. Billed as one of the most grueling trail runs in North America, it's a nine-mile, straight up hill at a 12 percent grade trudge up the craggy west face of the Sandia Mountains.

Because the Sandia Mountains is also part of the Cibola National Forest, the run is limited to 400 people. So entry is done entirely by lottery.

I guess my luck had to fail sometime. I didn't get picked this year. I am, however, a top-of-the-list alternate. Which means if a handful of people come to their senses and fail to send in their entry ballots by mid May, I will most likely win a spot.

Still. There's something about not being picked in the first go round that tells me I might outta fuggedabout it and train instead for something that won't kick my ass so hard. Like the New Mexico Half Marathon. A portion of the proceeds will go to benefit the Tourette Syndrome Association and nothing makes me more happy in my misery than knowing that my pain is going to a worthy cause.

Still, I'm pretty bummed. Because, darn it, La Luz holds special meaning for me. Besides being breathtakingly beautiful and a little scary (my favorite combination), it also almost always falls on the weekend of my mother's birthday (it was her favorite trail, too.) So it's not just a run, it's a kind of pilgrimage. Albeit with a lot of cursing.

Friday, May 2, 2008


Unlike many college students today, when I graduated in the late 1980s, I did so debt free. That was due in part to the fact that I didn't go away to school, but opted, instead, to attend my local state university, live at home for half of my college tenure, and also work various housecleaning/waitressing/graphic design jobs while attending classes. I also got a degree in, ah-hem, Art History, not medicine or law. So there you have it. We liberal arts majors come cheap.

Anyway, not only did I graduate debt free, I also graduated with a nice little nest egg of savings. Because that's what I and my peers had been taught to do. You earned money, you paid your bills, and you put the leftovers in a savings account. If I remember correctly, interest rates were at about 11 percent in those days, a real incentive to savings. So much so that even dumb-ass liberal arts majors knew that to save was to earn. And you could earn even more by investing those savings in things like short term Certificates of Deposit and the stock market. It wasn't just Moi doing this. A friend of mine was already a landlord by the age of 22. Another had saved enough to start a small business. I wasn't as ambitious, but still, I could easily afford things like lunch out every day and yearly vacations, despite the fact that I was making squat as secretary to one of Albuquerque's most gung-ho ambulance chasing lawyers.

You know what that same job pays today? About $1.00 per hour over squat. You know what my former nest egg earns today? If you're lucky, about 2.5 percent.

Which boggles my mind. Wages are stagnant. Inflation is rampant. But the Fed just keeps encouraging us to spend, spend, spend. From now until the end of time. On somebody's else's dime. Those freaks among us who do save? Who refuse to grab the gusto and go ahead and purchase things we can't afford? The gub'ment just sighs and shakes its fingers at us. And lowers the interest rate yet another half percent to "stimulate" the economy.

What should be a totally free market is, instead, nothing more than a precariously built gub'ment directed house of cards, whose rickety foundation, a joint venture between the Federal Reserve and the credit card companies, can only support so much. It's not a matter of if it will all come tumbling down. It's just a matter of when.