So I’ve made it to Albuquerque, NM. The cat at the home I am staying at hates me, or at least hates my presence. Last night I dreamt that it could speak English and it stretched out and whispered to me “If you stay in this apartment one more night you will die!” to which I replied “how about just a couple of months” (which is all I have planned – and then to head on up to Boulder, CO), but it hissed back “No, now…die!”
So that is uncomfortable. As for the rest, the apartment is nice. I’ve been too tired from the flight to really notice these obvious things yet. It is a decent apartment in a suburban part of Albuquerque (my host informed me that most all of Albuquerque is suburban – “a suburb that just kept going” is how she described it). There is more stucco and stucco-like materials around but it is not very different from New England.
Even though I was bleary-minded from the trip I got driven out after my flight to a rural part of New Mexico where my host keeps her horse. On the drive up, regarding the terrain around the roadways, I noted that I haven’t seen landscape like this before. The mountains (or perhaps I should call them large hills since there is an actual mountain range somewhere around here too) are covered in boulders. If there was an earthquake, they would become a moving sea of boulders, rolling and pinging through the air to flatten the houses below, there are that many of them. Unlike California for instance, where the hills are luscious with rich soil and occasional fissures, this is more like, well, rocks. Many “falling rocks” warning signs too. I realized, on seeing these hills, that the actual threat is probably less “falling rocks” than it is “fallen rocks” that you might collide into if you don’t spot them lying in the road, particularly at night. They should change the signs, because really isn’t the chances of colliding with a fallen rock a lot higher than the chances of your car being hit by a rock that is in the process of falling?
The sunlight is quite strong, due to the altitude. The horse was kept in a high up place, maybe 8,000 feet above sea level, versus the 6,000 where I am staying. I do notice the slight lack of oxygen, but the brighter sunlight is a nice trade-off. Up at 8,000 feet it was a bit windy and cold.
On a related note I am told, via email from my father, that I managed to miss the first real snowfall of the Boston area by leaving Saturday morning as I did. I consider that a success. Take that, New England!
I am not really into the rural life so I just stood by while the horse was attended to (it had cut its leg and needed to be bandaged). There was a “Vive Bush” bumper sticker in the window of the house near the stable. Very poor or poor looking area, and the sparseness of everything really made me feel more strongly that the United States needs to be divided into two countries – one, the blue states, the centers of population – and one, these sparse parts where things that matter to people in populated areas – things like equal rights for instance – really must seem terribly irrelevant. This was only a brief impression so I won’t say more yet.
Are there cowboys here? I am not sure yet. There was one at a feed store we stopped at on the way to the horse, manning the counter, but I think that was probably a person playing up to the extreme of his persona due to it being a feed store.
Actual people, at the local Walgreens for example, appear to be average suburban people. Maybe a bit more leather hides in the choice of fabrics of the homeless people sitting outside, and perhaps more Latino influence in the gene pool in most everyone, but generally so far seems normal.
Not like Texas. Holy shit, Houston International Airport. Make that the “George Bush International Airport”. Many people there were from Texas, they weren’t just passing through. And the level of “y’alls” and women in buffonted, bottle-blonded hairdos was, well, it was frankly disturbing. I even saw a woman in a dress which was clearly a derivation of old fashioned hoop dresses like you might see in Walt Disney’s Song of the South. The men looked smug, and the women were overly made-up.
Being from Boston, birthplace of the country and all (along with the other New England states and Virginia and such) I’ve never appreciated the way politicians from Texas act like they’re superior to everyone from Boston, New York, etc, particularly when Texas has no real reason to be so proud (not if their oh-so ignorant people whom they manage to get elected into national political offices are any way to judge). So Texas was not someplace I wanted to be; I felt like I was in a dangerous country with people who speak English but are otherwise quite foreign. If Washington DC ever goes poof, I expect anyone stuck at Houston International Airport will be stuck in Texas permanently while they throw up the barb wire around their backwards enclave of freaky, regressed culture. (Maybe they’ll do a prisoner exchange with neighboring states, but I doubt it). Yuck.
New Mexico in contrast – ok it had the Bush bumper sticker, and someone put a steel or aluminum cross on one of those boulder-covered hills, and I grant you that there was some kind of screeching female country music playing in the feed store (“whoo hoo, knock us up, put us in the kitchen and have us take care of babies, whoo hooo” – I am paraphrasing the lyrics) but – the feeling is different.
Even Albuquerque’s airport, where my first impressions were formed, felt less judgmental and more interested in culture. I observed at least several lesbians (and saw another one at the co-op store today), and kids who looked pretty much like Avril Lavigne, and there were statues at the airport honoring long-dead Indian/Native American chiefs. And it had a nice clay-colored flooring which I liked more than the white shopping-mall tile of Houston’s airport.
Today was Sunday so there may be fewer people on the road than usual but traffic in the immediate area around this neighborhood is fairly light. My car was here waiting for me and I’ve driven around once – slightly ill at east due to the threat from the cat-dream.
I’ve received a taste of the lackluster services made available to the unemployed. I received a letter from the Department of Unemployment Assistance informing me that I am required to take a Career Center Seminar before a particular date or they’ll cut off my unemployment insurance (insurance which has so far sent me only a single week’s coverage).
So I use the touch tone phone system to set up my attendance at one of these in nearby Cambridge. The morning of, I race out there and find that I can’t find the office. The automated message had said look for a “futuristic building” near the subway stop, and I thought I knew exactly which building that was since that is a description that can only be applied to select buildings.
I find my way in to the futuristic building but there’s no office there. As the clock ticks towards the start of the class I desperately phone the Department in search of directions, and find that “due to the high volume of calls, people with social security numbers ending in (my number) should call back on Thursday.” So there’s no assistance there. Similarly, calling the actual office where the seminar takes place is ineffective as the answering machine says they only have a receptionist two days of the week. For lack of a human operator, I can’t find the frigging building.
So I drive home, and attempt to register for another class, but the automated system can’t schedule me for another class because it feels I was already scheduled for the class I could not find. And again, no way for a person with my social security number to speak to a live operator.
Seems there’s no help, so out of curiosity I try to locate the “futuristic” building on mapquest, and find that the building they call “futuristic” is not in fact the futuristic building at all, but is rather a run-down building from circa 1970, located above a mattress store. Technically it isn’t even a building in the stand-alone sense of the word, it is those unnoticed upper floors above a strip mall. It is one number off from the actual futuristic building, and the opposite side of the expressway.
Well, I have until 11/04 to get to another class. But I leave for New Mexico on 10/29 so maybe my policy should be “fuck that, and fuck you.” My only concern is that they might recind my unemployment insurance from today forward, rather than from 11/04 forward.
UPDATE: Ah I feel so much less stupid now! They called me back, and not only can I attend tomorrow’s session (they had ONE spot open!), but they told me that in fact I wasn’t exactly wrong – the directions on the DUI phone system are to the location of where they used to be located but aren’t located anymore! They were indeed once in the “futuristic” building, but are not anymore. I am so glad that it was the world that was wrong, and not me. (Typical).
I don’t know what I am doing. I am packing more stuff than would be needed for a simple visit, but not as much as a full-scale move. I’m moving my car with me, but I don’t know for sure I’ll be staying there. Is this crazy?
I can fit five letter-legal boxes into the trunk of my car, with a 50/50 chance of my car trunk being broken into and it all vanishing. I can mail myself a limited number of boxes too (limited because I am a guest in someone’s home for two months).
What do I need for sure? My laptop computer (got one, a Gateway NX250X – I like that it has NX in the title, the same letters the Enterprise has on the precursor Trek series – NX-01). I’ll carry that in my shoulder bag.
My blender (need it for my protein drink). I’ll mail that ahead of myself a couple days before I leave.
Clothes – but how many? I’ve got my clothes down to four letter-legal boxes. Four boxes and three pairs of shoes. Maybe forget the shoes.
My projector – not really needed, but why not, it is small and I need my entertainment. I can ship the DVD player that goes with it, since without one it wouldn’t be very effective. For now headphones for the sound will do, though…uh oh, the DVD player doesn’t have a headphone jack. Ok, maybe the thing to do is just bring the projector, and get the projector hooked up to my laptop computer, which does have a headphone jack. I’ve never checked to see if the projector actually works with the laptop computer though. I fear it might only do a so-so job…I am so used to a deinterlaced (composite) signal… but I’ve got to think portable. Maybe just the projector. Ok.
The movies for the projector. Maybe I shouldn’t bring my movie and tv collection with me. But then again, it fits into three letter-legal boxes. Which is…more than my car can fit. Maybe I should just bring the tv series box, since I tend to watch them more than movies lately. Of course if I do this, I will immediately have a craving to watch a particular movie. Leave the porn and music videos behind, too – how often do I watch those, really? At some point in my life, maybe when I entered my 30s, I started to be more impressed by still pictures than by moving ones. I am referring of course to the music videos. Ok but seriously, perhaps start with the tv series box, and if I find that I am liking this part of the country I will have my movies sent on to me in a couple months. That makes sense, particularly as I could wait until I have a place of my own before having my movies sent on to me.
So, four boxes of clothes, one box of tv-on-dvd. In the car trunk. Hope the car doesn’t get broken into as it is being driven across the country by the friend-of-a-friend. Hope the car doesn’t conk out and the trunk contents stolen by the service station.
My one bit of revenge would be that I wear a size small shirt, so if any thieves steal my boxes of clothes they’ll be shit out of luck for clothes for themselves. (There aren’t many men who wear size small). Though I suppose they’ll clothe their kids with my stuff. At least that would be kind of charity-like.
Ship the blender. Ship the projector – padded very very very fluffily? Or bring it with me in my suitcase on the plane and hope the hyper-paranoid airplane security people don’t think it is a thermo nuclear bomb? They probably will. I wonder if the projector would get broken if I forget it is in there and I try to smoosh my clothes to fit into it? I’ll probably ship it – my suitcase isn’t as large as it looks.
I’ve been warned that in Albuquerque, deliveries are swiped off people’s porches often enough that the UPS has to hide deliveries in the shrubberies. Can you believe the world has sunk to this level of dishonor? Ok, so I’ll ship the projector to my friend’s office.
Maybe I’ll ship the projector and the one box of tv-on-DVD to my friend’s office. That’s not so bad, right? That’s not back breaking. So, all that is in the trunk would be clothes, which, if they get stolen, that’s not the worst thing in the world.
So, basically, remaining behind in storage will be my summer clothes, my shoes, my movie DVDs, as well as all the things I’d already planned to store there, which includes my books, my action figures (which I am going to fucking miss the fuck out of, if I can tell you), and my stereo.
Someday I will have a home of my own where I will be able to set up all of these things, I hope. But for now, it looks like the only “excess” thing I will be bringing will be my car, which I’ll need to get around there, that’s a fact.
OK, I feel better now. I have a plan.
Some thoughts in case my plane falls from the sky due to a terrorist attack. (I am writing this about two weeks ahead of my flight so I have time to revise this as I think of things).
My DVD collection can be divided between Jenn and Karin. Sony Vaio computer to Jenn (Karin already has one). Beyond that:
We’re living in a rather sucky time, a dark time, and it seems many of the great lights that had illuminated our age with good, creative works of art & intellect have been taken up. People like author Douglas Adams, prematurely taken, never even entered this dark age, and perhaps that is a blessing for them.
I believe we may come out of this dark age within a century (depending on how quickly the neocons can be ejected from public office), and if so, that is great and I’ll plan on incarnating again if that is so.
But I am trying to make the most of a bad situation here (again, the assumption that my plane has gone “foom”) so by noting that there have been some great people who have already left this world, I am implying that it is fine and good to be in their company.
(I was going to write some more, about acceptable forms of retaliation, but I think I’ll wait. Chances are my flight will go fine, but you never know).