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Thursday, March 29, 2007

[The internet tubes at home are clogged, and we totally spaced buying some digital Draino last week. I'll only have limited access for the next 24-48 hours, meaning at work, meaning tomorrow, meaning my the day of heaviest workload for the week. What does this mean to you? If you sent me an e-mail or commented, it might be awhile until I get back to you. I don't hate you, I'm just stuck.]

One of the things I love about Albuquerque is the seasonal stubborness that comes out. Once that thermometer hits 75 degrees three days in a row, an official proclaimation goes out declaring it's spring, man. Doesn't matter what the Weather Nerd says, doesn't matter how many late season cold fronts plow through the state, it's friggin' spring. Dress accordingly.

On my way into work this morning, I saw this practice embraced by every pedistrian I passed. Even though it was barely 40 degrees, there was the guy running in shorts and a tank-top, the mom in a mini skirt pushing her toddler (dressed in a t-shirt and howling, because it was friggin' cold, Mom!) to playgroup. Kids out on spring break were lounging around in jeans and t-shirts, their hands shoved into their arm pits, their lips turning a lovely shade of blue.

It's spring in Albuquerque. It's not cold. You're just a wuss.

Its the same sort of willful suspension of disbelief that sees homeowners on the roof Thanksgiving weekend, finally getting around to winterizing their swamp coolers. Until then, the chore was put off with the irrational argument of, "Well, you know, it always get really hot in October, and you'll want the cooler then."

For the record, it's never that hot in October.

Ah, Albuquerque, this is why I love you.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

I know, I know. The previous entry was very "emo, much?"

Let us never speak of it again.

Okay, fine. I do, on occasion, stress about the size of my head. I have a very large head, always have. My large noggin forced my mom to have a C-section, forever ruining her ability to rock the hell out of a bikini, and it's been a menace ever since.

Most of the time, I don't mind. I like to think of that extra three inches of bone as my natural football helmet, and planetoids like mine are the reason they invented adjustible bands.

But sometimes I wish that my head was a little less Easter Island, you know?

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

I was overly tired and feeling inadequate about life choices and things I cannot change, like the size of my head in relation to my ability to wear a short, sassy geek-girl haircut and the decision to drop premed as a junior. It was 11:30 on a Monday night and I was making the commute in the Civic on an empty, endless Paseo del Norte, chugging home, feeling vulnerable. And then, the radio decided to hit me with a one-two sucker punch of Daughtry's cover of "Rocket Man" and U2's "Electrical Storm."

And now the world has another way to make me look like a chump. A chump who will cry because of songs on the radio and head size.

I'm glad the world is looking out for me.


Sunday, March 25, 2007

There has been some progress, so I'm not as glum about it as I could be. Progress is progress.

There's also been some progress in the baking hobby.

Three crooked hearts with swirls all around

Lemon bars from the recipe of a friend's mother (thank you, Scout!) and another stab at the Guinness chocolate cupcakes, this time with a lemon cream filling and a ganache icing. The lemon bars are amazing. Can't believe I made them. The cupcakes? Aren't supposed to crunch like that.

Yeah, crunch. I think it's time to let this recipe die and move on to something else.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

It's not even that revisions have stalled out; that would imply a recent engagement of the creative clutch and a firm hand on the gear shift of work ethic. It's more that I've lost the keys and am searching everywhere for them, while they've been dangling in the ignition the entire time. As soon as I get out to the kicking roadster of tired metaphor and find them, I'm sure I'll be on my way. And then I can say (with confidence) that revisions have stalled.

To that end, I've been thinking about getting a typewriter. Maybe an IBM Selectric II or a manual jobbie in pristine condition; something that would sound the "TAP! TAP! TAP!" of authority with every keystroke, something that I could bang (hee!) out a draft on, just to finish, before doing a retype-and-tweak on the Mac.

And then I could add to my typewriter collection, because I'm just that nerdy. I have a 1920s Underwood which belonged to my Great Grandfather, the Country Doctor, and a 1930s reporter's typewriter that I bought at a garage sale for five bucks a few years back, and I'd like to expand the collection to include something useful and awesome, or at least with a working ribbon.

It's a distraction, though. This is all distraction from sitting down and putting the words on a page. The story is there; it's the fear that after all of this, it still won't be enough that has me on perpetual pause. I don't know how to work around it, and there's not a single magical typewriter in the world that would help me through it.

Just got to knuckle down and do.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Well, hell. I think I got popped by the red light camera at Jefferson and Paseo del Norte. Doesn't that just suck?

That niggling feeling of crap! has been lingering since just after I exited the intersection. You know how it goes: you roll up to one of these camera-monitored spaces, trying so hard not to break the law, and then for the rest of the day you're asking yourself "Did I come to a full and complete stop? Like with a period and everything?"

I'm pretty sure I didn't STOP. I stopped long enough to see the intersection was clear, but did I stop-stop? I can't remember, and I don't think I did. The memory banks are telling me the tires might have been rolling.


This is what I don't like about Marty's Income Generating Cameras of Justice -- that lack of gray area. A cop most likely wouldn't have flinched at the California stop. The camera will be relieving me of that benjamin.

I'll be the first person to admit I was being stupid if I did actually run the light. I usually carry a healthy heaping of paranoia in relation to the camera: it's all five miles under the limit and panic stops because as much as I love Albuquerque, I can think of better things to do with my hundred dollars than pay a fine.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

The occasional book tour -- Waiting for Daisy by Peggy Orenstein

waiting for daisy

No, seriously. How can you not love a book fully entitled: "Waiting for Daisy -- A Tale of Two Continents, Three Religions, Five Infertility Doctors, an Oscar, an Atomic Bomb, a Romantic Night, and One Woman's Quest to Become a Mother"?


Peggy Orenstein, author of Schoolgirls and Flux has written a memoir of unflinching honesty as she moves through her ambivalence to having a child to full-on obsession with getting pregnant, and then, staying pregnant. (Readers be warned, Oreinstein writes about three miscarriages in heart-shredding detail. )

She hits the highlights for any fertility memoir: doctors' visits, an acupuncturist's dirt tea, sliding into more and more outlandish "treatments" (there's this bit with nuns' urine) as the months tick by and she is still without child. These are the notes hit in any fertility memoir, and in lesser hands, it would be boring-assed boilerplate before the author is handed the deus ex machina baby on page 240.

But Orenstein goes deeper. In the middle of her struggle with infertility, she travels to Hiroshima and chronicles the emotional fallout of the events of August, 1945. She talks to survivors who later came to the States for medical care and plastic surgery as a gesture of goodwill. She meets a woman who has inherited her father's work of placing Hiroshima orphans in homes. She grieves for her own loss. She tentatively begins the process of adopting. The book moves into powerful, redemptive territory.

One thing that stuck in the back of my head as I read was how much I wanted Orenstein to become a mother. Even through the lowest pits of her journey, she maintains wit and grace, and aren't those values you'd like to see in today's parents?



Sunday, March 18, 2007

Lots of baking this weekend:

Me Grimlock Enjoy Eating Spoon


Cookie trio

Chocolate truffle cookie

And Adam got a macro lens for the D40. All in all, a very good weekend.

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Formula One is back on the telly. The Australian Gran Prix is happening, and I know (sort of) a person in attendance.

"The cars are making a pleasing noise," Adam says. It's true. The quiet hum of engines spinning up to 19,000 rpm is having the usual soporific effect: my eyes are drooping even though it's barely ten. The "mmmmmmmMMMMMMMMVRRRRRRROOOOOOOOOOMPPPPHMmmmmm" of a Maclaren is enough to put me right out, and we reminisce about a couple of memorable naps had on the Indianapolis Speedway viewing mounds.

The driver ranking graphic pops up, and Adam giggles. "I'm sorry, but whenever I see 'L. Hamilton,' I'm thinking Linda, not Louis."

"You think Scott Speed went up to him and was all, 'I loved you in Terminator?'"

"Most likely. And when he did it, he was sporting the Brad Pitt, Jr. look of closed-cropped hair, aviator shades and a pimp coat worn over tighty-whities."

"And Linda was like, 'the wha?'"

"And for the rest of the season, he will be referred to as Linda."

"Nah. DC will call him 'newbie,' ala Cox, and Webber will simply refer to him as 'Girl's Name.'"

" 'Hey! Girl's Name! Congratulations on that first podium.' "

" 'But my name is Louis. Louis!' "

"And then, just to fuck with him, Speed will start calling him 'Louise' sometime after Monaco."

" 'Welcome to the F1, bitch.' "

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Friday, March 16, 2007

I am currently in an undisclosed downtown location, drinking coffee that my father-in-law bought for me on his very last day as a working stiff.

It's a different world.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

It was a mini ALOTT5MA meet-up!

Mini ALOTT5MA Meet-Up!

And Pi Day!

Adam celebrates Pi Day

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It was a record high of 79 today in the Duke City. And a happy Pi Day to you, too.

A month ago today, I was freaking out over Winter Storm Hoth. Today? Chillin' on the Starbucks patio with Dan, Steve and Racquel. That is the Albuquerque weather I know and love.

(Yes, I did say "chillin'." I don't care if 1995 called, it's not getting its slang back.)

Of course, with temperatures scraping the 80s, it does beg the question of when to switch over the swamp cooler. Tradition dictates Memorial Day weekend, but the weather of Aught Seven has been tempremental enough to mix it up. BUT! -- and there's always a -- the possibility of Winter Storm IG-88 making an appearance and freezing all the tulips remains in play until the first week of May.

Never discount that late season storm.

Still, I'm loving today. It's been all-sunglasses, all-sunscreen, all-top-down-all-the-time, even if I was stuck inside for most of it. We need more warm days like today. More!


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Hey, Racquel! Would you be willing to meet up at the 'Bucks for coffee some time? Sling me an e-mail: drivinginheels at gmail det com.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Today's weirdness.

~ At the corner of Paseo and Eagle Ranch NW: I had the top down on Bucky and was waiting for the light to turn green in the center/left lane. A work truck coasts to a stop in the turn lane next to me, and the driver shouts: "HEY! GRACE KELLY!" and I turn to see if he's yelling at me (he is) and he grins and shouts, "YOU'RE BEAUTIFUL!"

This proves my theory that a reasonably plain woman is knocked into the top 10% the minute she gets into a classic roadster.

Also, Grace Kelly? Was blonde. If we're going to tag me as a generally known, classic dead celebrity, can't I be Audrey Hepburn? The hair color's right, at least. Or Liz Taylor, minus the seven marriages?

Oh, I shouldn't complain. Grace Kelly got an Hermes bag and free tickets for life to the Monaco GP. That's pretty darn good.

"Hey! Grace Kelly!"
(And I'm still not seeing it.)

~ I made cookies for Adam over the weekend. Nothing major, just oatmeal chocolate chip. Adam took a couple with us while we ran errands on Sunday, and ended up leaving one in the Civic. I remembered it was there, as you do at 3 a.m. Just a thought of, "Remember to get that out of there before all the chocolate melts and stains the oh-so-unreplaceable upholstry." Which I did remember this morning. Only, when I went out to the Civic (the only car we keep unlocked and parked on the street), the cookie was gone. I assumed Adam had grabbed it and eaten it (because, OMG cookie), but when I asked him later, he had not.

A cursory search of the Civic proved cookie-less.

I can only imagine what happened. Some kid on the way to the bus stop passed our car and said "ooooooh! cookie" or the weird neighbor was . . . doing something near the Civic and was feeling a little peckish. I don't know. Lock your doors; there's a cookie thief loose on the West Mesa.

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One of my very favorite places is the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science in Albuquerque's Old Town. I know every city has a museum like this, that it's a variation on a theme: kid-friendly, hands-on science with a generous helping of dinosaurs. I've been to a lot of those museums. Heck, I have been to museums all over this planet of ours, and I think our little tribute to the natural world is one of the best.

My parents made a special trip to Albuquerque when it opened twenty-some years ago, which was unheard of. A trip to Albuquerque in those pre-Costco days meant we were flying somewhere, otherwise there was no justification for the four hour car trip and expense of a night in a hotel. But when the museum opened, we were so there.

I remember how friggin' awesome the musuem was, especially to an eight-year-old. There was an automated T-Rex that roared, and a simulated volcano that you could walk through (and over glowing "lava" which always thrilled me). I remember how I could spend hours staring up at the leg bone of a brachiosaurus, and hanging around the stegosauraus affectionately known as Spike. The displays on New Mexico's sea coast and the origins of DNA were awe-inspiring to a little kid with an already nerdy bent, and unlike the Louvre, this new museum was hands on. There were buttons to push, and mammoth skulls to touch and a whole room dedicated for children to explore the natural room. Unfortunately, this room also had the collection of live snakes, which always seemed to be out for touching, and I am not a fan of the slitheries, so there was always an air of danger going into the resource room.

My mother -- a docent, now -- still refuses to go in there.

After that first trip, no visit to Albuquerque was complete without a run through the museum. Seriously. Doctors' appointments were followed by some quality time hanging out in the volcano, which just made the former Albuquerque contingent go, "Oh, MAN," because sometimes you just need to hang out in a lightless room dedicated to liquid hot magma.

In the last year, my parents have become volunteers for the museum. My mother is an on-again, off-again docent. "Here are the dinosaurs. There are the bathrooms." My dad, a former physical science teacher, is training to become a chiseler, one of those guys you see in the Fossil Works lab in the center of the downstairs, carving out fossils from bedrock with dental tools. How friggin' cool is that? His training has been on a mammoth skeleton, but after graduation there's talk of moving up to dinosaurs. My dad's a total rock star.

The museum is one of those happy places where I can go in feeling kind of down and come out feeling rather cheerful. It's a lovely space in a lovely city.

We went to the museum yesterday for the first time in ages, after the gawdforsaken autocross on Saturday. We took a messenger bag stuffed full of Uglydolls and cameras and spent an enjoyable couple of hours running around our favorite exhibits taking stupid pictures and talking about how we loved coming here as kids and our childhoods in general. It felt like we were visiting old friends. We shoved a couple of dollars into the Stan collection fund and were rewarded with a roar similar to the long-gone animatronic T-Rex. It was a good day.

Cinko poses with Spike for a picture

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

I did not race.

It was kind of a cruddy day. A lot of cars showed up -- I heard 72, yay! -- which split into three run groups. I was assigned to work a corner for the first run group, and would drive in the third group. Adam was put in the first run group and assigned to work for the third group. It wasn't the best outcome for a day ever, but y'know. Whatever. We'd hang out for the second two run groups and have a fan.tast.ic. time.

Well, I was right about the "ick" part.

First, that 74 degree day Weather Nerd was promising did not show up. It was chilly and overcast and a touch windy out on the mesa, and I was stupid enough not to take a heavy coat. So there was a lot of shivering in a hoodie praying it wouldn't rain.

It didn't. Whew.

But, there was an accident during the first group's first run. A guy in a Neon SRT-4 lost control on the inner oval and slammed into the wall. He was fine, but the car is a total write-off. Time was eaten up by towing and clean-up, and then the 30+ cars running a 100 second course three times, and suddenly four hours were gone.

Four hours eaten up for one group. I cried uncle when the last car came in, and came home. There was no way I was going to have any sort of decent run. My tires were not going to get up to temp, and the course demanded hot tires. I was exhausted from the morning, and the course was demanding. Like a good racer, I evaluated the situation and said in my very best Cartman voice, "screw you guys, I'm going home."

I think it would have had more impact if anyone had heard me with that last one.

There is another event in two weeks at UNM G Lot. Try, try again. I'm disappointed, but, y'know, it was my own choice to leave without getting a run in. I have nobody to blame but myself.

And right now, I have "Singles" on HBO and a pot of coffee going, and when Adam gets back (at midnight) we're going downtown for sushi and a movie, so life isn't too bad at all.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The commute has turned into an exercise of following the line and practicing cornering, and I'm obsessing over apexes and gear selection again. It's a challenge to not view the other vehicles on Paseo as moving cones, because A) street racing is bad mmmkay? and B) try explaining to a cop that the SUV/Minivan/Truck combo was actually a mobile chicane?

My brain is fuel-soaked and craving the sweet, sweet aroma of unburnt chloroflorocarbons, hot hydrolic fluid and melted rubber. The music on my iPod has made a suspicious shift away from the mellow to something a little more suitable for the Gran Turismo games. I've been practicing full cross steering in the parking lot.

I'm a little race-happy. Can you tell?

The SCCA season kicks off on Saturday with an event at Sandia Motorsports. I hadn't planned on going; the fees for Sandia are usually just a little too much for me to justify, but Adam is ponying up my entry fee. And with that, I am so in.

But -- for the sake of full disclosure -- I should note this will be the annual first event where I show up, gung-ho for another season and then . . . I don't know, life sets in and every other weekend I'll mumble some excuse involving a combination of the words "revision" "deadline" and "sunburn."

But for now? I'm in! The course map is already up and it looks like a friggin' blast (even if it's more a power course, now that event organizer Tom has gone to the dark side of American muscle). I'm just aching to show up in my little black helmet and get Bucky (and his new JDM suspension) onto the track -- and not into the dirt.

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Adam whipped up a homicidal alien for me. Isn't that the sweetest thing?

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Monday, March 05, 2007

In the ongoing identity crisis of "well?" I posed the question to my iPod*, which may or may not be sentient. And despite being almost clean of any music not originating in the Pacific Northwest, it dug up the remix of U2's Discotheque, which I thought had been lost in a purge last December, but that is not the point.

The point is this line:

You wanna be the one/But you know you're someone else instead/Wanna be the song/Be the song that you hear in your head

Which just about sums it up. Spooky, ain't it?

*Oh, c'mon. Asking your iPod for advice is the new Magic 8 Ball. Shuffle the songs, ask your question and hit forward.

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

Questions I'm putting to you, my lovely readers. Please remember to show your work.

1. I'm looking for a local business where I can grab a pair of classic Chuck Taylors. Sources?

2. Australia or new back yard? We've been staring at mesa for the last four years, and it's getting embarrassing. On the other hand, Australia.

3. Zia tattoo -- cool or cliche?

4. Should the site go through a redesign?

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

Every couple of years we decide to go to the Fiery Food Show, and every couple of years we remember that, oh yeah, it friggin' sucks. The crowd's impenetrable, the sauces on sample are usually not up to par, and someone usually comes out cranky.

This was one of those years we forgot. Or maybe we remembered, but we were being lured to the Sandia Pueblo by the siren song of the Bhut Jolokia, the hottest chile in the world.

Satan's own chile pods

I like me a chile that comes with a warning label.

The Bhut Jolokia is rated at over 1,000,000 scovilles of heat. A New Mexico green chile is rated at 1,000 scovilles. A jalepeno is rated 2,500 to 10,o00. Pepper spray is 2,000,000.

This thing is one-half strength mace.

Mmm. Incapacitating.

In addition to the dried pods (no, we haven't fucked with them . . . yet), Adam bought a package of seeds and a seedling. He has already formulated great plans of hand-raising his new chile plant pet and using it for world domination.

I have no doubt.

If you want to put a little time and tenderness into torturing your own taste buds, New Mexico State University is selling seeds through its Chile Pepper Institute. www.chilepeperinstitute.org.

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