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Saturday, December 30, 2006

Shopping List for If We Ever Dig Out of This White Hell and Convince the Next Door Neighbors To Unblock Our Friggin' Driveway:

Airborne, Kleenex, Gatorade and Advil Adam has come down with his annual New Year's Eve cold, made worse by trying to dig us out of the above white hell. He is currently curled up on the big chair, watching Star Wars and not even bitching about Lucas, which means he is a very sick man. This also means we'll be missing Dan's party. Sorry about that. Just know that kicking back cups of pink grapefruit-flavored fizzy vitamins isn't the same as a bottle of Gruet and we'll miss you all.

Half and Half Dear God, please let me have some half and half. The whole milk's not cutting it and the whipping cream makes it taste like death, and I still haven't found a happy medium. I am sorry for every doubting you, half and half, and only going for the pint. Never again. At least, never again in winter.

Beer This one is for Adam, who started to mumble last night about his forebearers, who would survive winter by drinking their way through to spring, not that he's advocating the binging habits of D-List celebrities, but would it kill us to have a single bottle of Guinness in the house?

Green Tea This one is also for Adam, post-onset-of-cold, who has started mumbling about his pending death. Like everything else in this house, we're out of this, too.

Bacon What? Bacon's tasty.

Eggs To go with the bacon

Paper Towels We're out and I just have this feeling I'm going to need six or eight rolls before this is all over.

And Finally, Dinner
What is for dinner, anyway?

Anyone feel like making a Raley's run for me?

Day Two

The smart move would have been a mid-week grocery run after Hyperbole the Weather Dude told us we were going to get hit by the storm. The smart move would have been investing in a snow shovel and a pair of moon boots each, and gloves. Holy crap, dudes. Gloves.

But we didn't make a mid-week grocery run, and we don't have a snow shovel or moon boots or the rest of it.

And while it might make you Northerners laugh, we admitted defeat. 11" of snow FTW. Seriously, I haven't seen this much snow in ten years. Adam's only seen this much snow one other time in his life.

"Yeah," he said, doing the dude-surveying-his-domain-fist-on-hips stance. "We're stuck. At home. Again."

Not that there's any problems with being stuck at home while the world's draped in eleven inches of fondant. Staying at home means lounging around in my fluffy robe and fluffy slippers and fluffy monkey pants (I like being fluffy) and reading Christopher Moore books while Adam rocks out with Guitar Hero II. Staying at home means I will make breakfast, grilled cheese and jalapeno sammiches, oatmeal raisin cookies and stew. and I'll still clean up the kitchen. And staying at home means getting bored around two o' clock and deciding yeah, it's time to build a snowman.

Snow Jabba

Or, um, Snow Jabba in our case. We're nerds, but we've established this.

Snow Jabba denies Adam mercy

Really big nerds.

I strangle Snow Jabba!

Really, really big nerds.

And now we're going to spend the evening lying around the living room coming up with Old Years Resolutions, because it's easier to come up with something you have one day to fix than the other way around. For instance, I'm going to do laundry.

Ahhh, I feel better already.

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Friday, December 29, 2006

What have we learned today, children?

1. The Civic's battery, like so many terminally ill, will wait until just after the holidays to die. And not just run out of juice, but shuffle-ball-change that mortal coil right off for extra post-holiday fun and migraines.

1. a. The Civic's battery will also choose the snowiest day in Albuquerque's history to stage said death.

2. Lightweight rear wheel drive roadsters should not come into contact with snow under any circumstance.

3. Adam is wise, even if I did (temporarily) prevail.

and finally,

4. Saddam. Not a vampire.

(Everyone and everything is fine. Just, grrrrrr. Be safe, okay?)

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Here is the argument Adam and I have whenever it's completely yucky outside:

Adam: We're not going to work today!
Sarah: I'm going to work today.
Adam: No, you're not.
Sarah: Yes, I am.

(This goes on for half an hour)

Adam: You are to stay home today.
Sarah: I. Am. Going. To work.
Adam: Your job is not worth dying for.
Sarah: Who grew up in the mountains?
Adam: . . .
Sarah: Who grew up in the mountains and was forced to learn how to drive in a rear wheel drive car in a blizzard?
Adam: . . .
Sarah: I am going to -- holy keeeerap, did you see that guy spin?
Adam: Dude.
Sarah: He was in friggin' four wheel drive.
Adam: Du-dude. Drifto action, right there.
Sarah: I should leave now, don't you think?
Adam: Bwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

(We're still in the previous thirty minutes of "no, you're not"/"yes, I am" back and forth. I'll prevail.)

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

It's midnight. I'm awake. My brain won't shut up. It's like the freshman-year roommate who waits until you're just on the brink of passing out before launching into a two hour monologue about her senior prom.

Except this is my brain. Talking. Constantly.

It can start out by running through a shopping list that careens into a mental check of the bank balance which in turn morphs into a mini anxiety attack about my weight/hair/age/wrinkle status before looping over to the revisions which roll into planning contingency situations from Asteroid Impact all the way through Zombie Infestation which it thinks should really be a book before adding things to the mental Target list from the beginning of the evening which always provides the opportunity to wonder if that (whatever that may be) is on Wiki?

And oh, but I can't zero in on any one topic to shut up the noise. No, sir. My head is a radio tuned in between two strong stations, or someone flipping channels. Nothing's sticking around for more than a couple of seconds, and I'm tired. I just want to sleep and it won't shut up.

I think this is all the weather's fault. It's going to snow. It's supposed to snow. It's supposed to/going to snow tomorrow. Seriously. All week, hyperbole-y weathermen have been standing in front of maps talking about low pressure systems sliding in and mowing down the state with another bout of winter weather and now it's the eve of the snowstorm, and I haven't shaken that tingle of anticipation of a snow day.

Even though I'd have to work no matter what. I think the brain's on full tilt because of the snow. At least, that's the theory I'm working with now. Or maybe I shouldn't have thrown back that last cup of coffee, even though that last cup happened before 5 p.m.


It's all singing, all dancing, all sitcom-lines-repeating in here. And I just know that if I do manage to fall asleep, my brain will retaliate by giving me desperate-to-fall-asleep dreams, or I-graduated-eleven-years-ago-but-I-have-to-take-Algebra-I-again dreams, or my favorite, work anxiety dreams!

I'd ask for a room change, but where exactly do I direct that complaint?

Christmas at our house

The Christmas aftermath, as taken by Adam with my new Nikon CoolPix S7c, thus answering the other Sarah's question about what was under the tree.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Happy Christmas to everyone.


Saturday, December 23, 2006

So again, we're dancing around the idea of selling the house and moving inland, because living this far out on the mesa is becoming more and more depressing. Actually, the mesa isn't depressing. We love the mesa. We sing praises of the mesa. The mesa is beautiful! Now stop building houses on it.

No, what's depressing are the planned neighborhoods stocked with people who can't understand how we've gone seven years without producing two children and buying a minivan. It's a high school do over, and we're back to being the freaks who read.

(From what I can tell, reading for pleasure was banned in the neighborhood covenant, since every conversation I've had with neighbors begins with "you're a writer?" and ends with "well, I don't like to read much.")

Suburbs. Must get out. Out. Now.

Anyway, with those partially formed thoughts in mind, we took time this afternoon to drive past a possibility I had spotted in the paper last Sunday. English-style "cottage" that's bigger than this place, near downtown, with a garage (woo!) and attached workshop (read extra garage spaces possible, double woo!) , a "guest house" (who knows), and as silly as it sounds for Albuquerque, a white picket fence. And did I mention the price tag which is almost, almost doable?

Other things that make it just perfect on paper: rooms under the eaves and a sun porch and it's within walking distance of Slate Street Cafe. Seriously, if you let me have a slingshot, I could pass a boring Tuesday binging every politico, mover and shaker in the city on the head, and how awesome would that be?

But sun porches and slingshots aside, there are other variables at play before I can give the Realtor a jingle and demand to have a tour of the place: our house isn't currently for sale and god knows if it'd even sell in this market; the house (judging from the pictures I found online) would require some major revamping to make it ours, which probably wouldn't work on the "almost-doable" budget. There is only one garage spot. And also, we can afford the place we're in now, even if it is at the expense of our immortal souls.

Seriously. They want us to join their cult of the undead, and I! Ain't! Doin'! It!

Yeah. I should call the guy right now.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

It snowed.

Four inches reported at the airport. Another two inches possible tonight.

Adam is giddy.

So last night, all the news stations were abuzz over the winter storm preparing to barrel through the state, and some forecasters, and I'm not saying who, resulted to the sort of hyperbole that borders on cruel. "Seven to ten inches expected in the Albuquerque area."

Here's the thing about Albuquerque. Only once in Adam's life has the snow piled up higher than four inches. Only once in his life did he have to shovel a path to the tree for the dog. Meanwhile in Ruidoso, I was scoffing at anything below eighteen inches. Well, not so much "scoffing" as "petitioning God to please up that ante, because I have a math test tomorrow and I didn't study." (He came through a couple of times, too!) What I'm trying to say is that ten inches of snow isn't that exciting.

But if you're a kid who grew up in Albuquerque and suddenly the trusted weatherman's throwing around feet rather than inches to measure this supposed snow storm, and it's a week before Christmas, you'd probably get your hopes up too. "Oh, boy! Ten inches!"

When I got up at seven, everything was cloud-covered but still brown. Forty-five minutes later, and it began sleeting, with just enough actual flakes mixed in to cover everything in a fine powder of white. Then it stopped again. Then it started melting off.

The poor kid's been moping around the house, his hopes dashed.

National Weather Service is predicting two to four inches today, with another inch tonight. It would only be half, but it would be enough for Albuquerque. Seriously. I'm already dreading the commute on Paseo today.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Things I need to do before next Monday:

1. Wrap things. Not that there's much, or I live in a house with a giant kid who's gonna flip when they find the zebra pony stashed in the garage, but wrapping stuff? Good. I approve of it.

2. Finish the holiday baking. Actually, it's not so much "baking" as making rum-drenched truffles, and that's half done. I just need to finish rolling them out. And covering the chocolate in chocolate and then drizzling chocolate on the top of the chocolate.


Odd side note, I'm totally craving the salsa. Chocolate not so much.

3. Finish the holiday laundry.

The one thing I have accomplished, besides being named Time's Person of the Year (LAME!), has been sending out a handful of Christmas cards, which makes me feel sort of spiffy, until I realize I owe every single one of you (again, thanks, Time!) a card.

Really, all this manufactured holiday cheer's exhausting, and about all I want to do is lie down and sleep until it's over, orthodox holidays included.

But I can't hide under the duvet and really, honestly, I wouldn't even if I had the chance. There are things to do, things not on the list. I've got work and writing and I'm not feeling angsty about any of it. This is a great slice of time, and I am so very grateful to have it. It's good, y'know?

So that means I'm about three days away from a dental emergency or car kerfluffle, of which I promise I will document faithfully for you, dear reader.

Yeah, I'm sick of me, too.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The sucky part of buying shit for oneself this close to Christmas is how one's spouse says, "Oh, you should stick that under the tree so you have something to open."

He wasn't buying the "But it's Hannukah" excuse either, despite me playing the "but I'm Jewish on my mother's side, that counts!" card, because, apparently, being baptized Episcopalian trumps lineage.

Under the tree it goes.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

More things that are fantastic about coming home:

1. The people. They might try to kill me on Paseo and turn signal use is still only on a case-by-case basis, but I cannot imagine a more united group of people, even if we find our unity in making insulting jokes about our neighbors to the east. New Mexicans are friendly, surly, contrary, cheerful, backwards, forwards, progressive and as red as they come, but they're my people. On our last day in Honolulu, I saw a guy wandering around in a UNM t-shirt and I couldn't stop myself from yelling out "LOBOS!"

He shouted back "WOOF! WOOF! WOOF!"

And, you know, I would have shouted out "AGGIES!" with just as much joy. Seeing that little bit of here there made me all the more anxious to get back home, where I belong.

2. Green chile. Good lord, by the end of the trip, I was dumping half bottles worth of Tabasco on anything, including into open cans of Diet Coke, and it still wasn't enough kick.

I'm not joking.

3. The high desert and its lack of humidity. My hair grew a full inch when we hit the Albuquerque tarmac, and that was just the beginning. It's so brown here, except for the sky, which is so blue and wide and open.

4. The Sandias. Honestly, who doesn't get a little choked up seeing them after weeks away from Albuquerque?

5. Local news. Oh, Tom Joles, how I've underrated your immovable hair and dulcet tones. Say bosque for me. Really get into it: "Booooooooosque!" Now tell me about a shooting and a meth lab and what King Bill's up to.

Also, the paper-of-record-who-also-happens-to-be-my-employer-but-should-not-be-named-because-it's-not-that-kind-of-blog is a fantastic paper, both visually and content-wise. I'm reminded of that every time I travel.

God, I love being home. I love being in New Mexico. Adam claims I'm about six weeks away from getting that Zia symbol tattoo, and I have a feeling he might be right.

Pictures of the Pearl Jam 12/2 show

(There's been some hankering for a 12/9 show commentary; I might get to that later today. Right now? Pictures!)

On the left is the angel Vanessa. If you know her? Send her here. I have stuff for her.

The other Adam
The other Adam, who Adam found at the next concert.

Why yes, I do believe that IS Jerry standing behind us
Guy behind me with the backwards hat and camera? That's Jerry. Who later had an unfortunate incident with a shark, or so the story goes.

I thought the lights were pretty.

My one good shot of Mike
And my one good shot of Mike playing Yellow Ledbetter.

As always, Adam has way better photos in his Flickr.

What? He has the better camera.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

When the Southwest jet touched down and I saw the Sandias, the tiredness dropped away. I was home. Home. Green chile and brown landscapes and dead volcanoes and open mesas and red zias on yellow fields. Home.

And then I got into the cold coldness of the cold and started asking myself what I was even doing here. But that's traveling, right?

It was a good break, the emergency vacation with the emergency-vacation-within-the-emergency-vacation. I worked my way through four books, continued working on my own thing, hung out on the beach, annoyed turtles and tourists, drank a lot of coffee, avoided getting a sunburn and just felt the lift of the grind from my shoulders, just for a minute.

We met a lot of cool people during our travels; Pearl Jam fans are really kind, good hearted folks. One of the treats of the trip came when fans would spot us in our PJ t-shirts and come over for a chat. Didja see the show, are you gonna see the other one, where ya from? Did you see that one? That's a fantastic boot.

Seriously, y'all are good people.

It ends tomorrow when I go back to work, which is making me sad. I've been looking forward to this trip for ages and ages and now it's over. About all I can do is load up the bootleg on the iPod (and it sounds great, by the way) and look at pictures and try to keep in contact with as many new friends as possible, as trite as that sounds.

Anyway, I'm back now. I'm sorry I left y'all alone for awhile.

And hey! Sometime in the next couple of days, we're going to hit 10,000 visitors since I started keeping track with a sanctioned counter earlier this year. Maybe we'll celebrate!

Home. Oh, lord. I'm home.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Part Two -- Seriously, is this the afterlife?

To recap: It was raining in Hilo and we threw caution to the wind and went to Honolulu for a Pearl Jam show, met awesome people and were friggin' handed 18th row tickets, and I'm still not convinced I'm not dead.

The crowd around us was pretty sparse for Kings of Leon, acting as opener for this leg. I will admit I ducked out halfway through for a pee, my apologies to the Australians. Also, I apologize for referring to them as "Fountains of Leon" for most of the evening.

The crowd filled in between the sets and we were surrounded by fans on all sides, sort of. To Adam's right was a guy who was pissed off that his "seriously low Ten Club number" got him "bitchslapped to the the 18th row." His mood darkened when I cheerfully informed him we'd bought tickets that morning.

(So I left out the part about Vanessa's Greatest Pearl Jam Karma Ever. Whoops.)

In front of me was a woman who sighed she'd married into Pearl Jam fandom, but unlike certain people, didn't bother trying to develop a taste for the band. "I like that one song," she said vaguely. Later, during more political lyrics, her husband would clamp his hands over her ears. It became obvious she was very, er, red. She pouted for most of the show, stretching out her left and and looking at her wedding bands. I think her husband was going to be punished for the rest of their vacation.

(Seriously, if you do have tendencies to the right, what are you doing at such a liberal show, y'know?)

The crowd was awesome. The set list was awesome. Adam was awesome. I am unable to use any word other than "awesome." But it was all there. The punch throwing? The signing? The intricate finger-number choreography? It was there.

And I sang myself horse. Every song. I know I say I don't sing in public, but I couldn't help it. The words were pulled from my chest. Mary rising up above it all, indeed.

This isn't supposed to be a recap of the set list, or a movement-for-movement recap of the concert ("And then we sang 'Happy Birthday' to Matt Cameron, and then Eddie threw cake into the crowd"). If you want that, check out the forums at pearljam.com. Download the bootleg when it goes up.

This is just a record for me, so I remember how it went. How, after the show, we started talking to Jerry and Donna from Seattle and their friend Lisa from Calgary. How we ran into Jack and Justin, and Justin showed off his new Jeff Ament armband and an Eddie Vedder guitar pick. This is for me to remember how overwhelmed I felt by the kindness of Jack who dipped into his wallet and pulled out a Mike McCreedy pick from the Las Vegas show. This is for me to remember how we went out for a quick drink with Jerry, Donna and Lisa, how we made plans to meet up with Jack later in the week, how I'm praying Vanessa calls me to meet up for the U2 show, because we lost track of her in the mass of people leaving.

This is for me to remember how we climbed into the party van at two this morning and slept on and off in the arena's parking garage until 4 a.m., how we slept in the airport after that. How all of this has taken on a dreamlike quality and how I can't believe we turned into the kind of people who take stupid risks and go see shows with heedless abandon.

This is for me and for you. It's possible I'm dead. I'm still not convinced.

I haven't uploaded my photos yet, but you can see the beginnings of Adam's at his Flickr.

I'm sleep-deprived, my hair's dirty, I'm wearing the slightly-too-small concert t-shirt, the first t-shirt I ever bought at a concert, and you can go ahead and cancel Christmas, because it's already come here.

I love you guys.

(Damn, it's like I'm drunk on life.)

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Part One -- From Beyond the Grave?

I am quite possibly writing this from beyond the grave.

Okay, I should explain.

So, we're in Hilo, right? And from the time we landed, it had been raining. Rain, rain, rain. It rained more in twenty-four hours than it had rained in Albuquerque all year, and that might not be stretching it. It was friggin' wet.

On our first day, we reacted to the rain the way you'd expect. We walked around in it, we watched it fall, we took pointed breaths and exclaimed over how A) green and B) fresh everything was.

By day two, we were rained out. Day two. We're wimps.

So I turned to Adam, and said off-handedly, "y'know what we could do? We could just find a flight, go to Honolulu and catch the Pearl Jam show tonight."

I was kidding. Kidding. We'd found out about the show after we'd booked the vacation and there had been grumbling about paying for a room we weren't going to sleep in, and mutterings about rental cars and Ten Club tickets and promises to download the boot, but we weren't going. It had been decided. We weren't going.

It was raining in Hilo.

Forty-five minutes after I made the suggestion, Adam had bought concert tickets, booked two seats on a puddle jumper and had started harassing rental agents in Honolulu.

I was kidding.

He wasn't. We were on a flight to Honolulu within the hour.

A football game and participants in next week's marathon had wiped out the rental agencies, but we were able to rent a blue minivan out from under a trio of German surfers. Believe the Miata driver when I talk about how much I adored that minivan, but understand three things: it was large, it was unassuming, it was available.

After short discussion, we decided we would go first to the venue and pick up our tickets. It took some cajoling for directions; the woman behind the rental counter had no idea what we were talking about. "Aren-a? Con-cert? Mus-ic?" Seriously. We were speaking a foreign language as far as she was concerned. But the lot attendant guy? He knew.

So we went to Waikiki, got lost, got reoriented, found parking (this could be an issue next week), paid for parking and got the tickets. It was four plus hours from show time, but fans were already milling around in their Mooky Blaylock 10 jerseys and t-shirts that listed obscure shows from two tours ago.

Of course we lined up with them.

Actually, I lined up with them. Adam didn't want to right away, he kept muttering about the opportune time and not wanting to be a nerd. I kindly pointed out we were showing up at the venue four hours early and playing the ABCs of Pearl Jam, so we were well past nerd territory.

We lined up.

And, as it goes with me in a line that has no chance of moving for hours, I got chatty. There was a woman behind me, and a father and son duo, and we just started yammering back and forth. She was a pediatric nurse from Miami, in town for both concerts. He was a flooring guy from California who had gone to thirteen shows this year and was taking his 12-year-old son to his sixth show. We recounted the morning's decision to come, and every time it began, "It was raining in Hilo."

And this is where I'm wondering if I'm actually dead.

About an hour before the doors opened, the pediatric nurse, Vanessa, asked where we were sitting. "Nosebleed. Waaaaaay up there." There was some explaining about Ten Club tickets and spur of the moment decisions and she said, in this most wonderful voice, "trade you."

She had four tickets for the floor and three friends who had backed out. She gladly handed us two tickets for the 18th row. She didn't want anything for them, she just gave them to us, because she is awesome.

From nosebleed to the crowd, just like that, just because it was our first chance to see Pearl Jam in concert, because she was kind, because there is goodness in the world.

I would have been just as happy with our stupid nosebleed tickets, I think. I would have been happy with just hearing the sound check float from the arena, really. One minute there was discordant strumming, and the next, I could hear "Love Boat Captain," a song I love, being played live. If we had left then, turned around and flown home, I'd probably tell the story until my dying day. "And then we heard Eddie sing 'Love Boat Captain' from outside the Blaisedale arena and it was one of the happiest days of my life. The end."

But we were on the floor, on Row 18. And I can't believe what happened next.

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