You know that your life has taken a strange turn, when you’re lying in bed at 1 in the morning thinking, “I should have gotten Yellow Fever.”
I am currently in Albuquerque, New Mexico. (This sentence has been brought to you by Spell Check. Spell Check: serving the IT community indifferently since 1961.) This city (which shall henceforth be known only as “this city”) is the very first leg of my walkabout, and I’m now Launch Day + 2. Launch Day itself went, overall, rather smoothly. Jane was kind enough to run me to the UPS store to send a last couple of boxes of stuff: one to my sister, Sarah, filled with escrow paperwork and the like that I no longer need (and a drawer of kitchen utensils that the movers somehow missed) to go into storage; and one on to stop 4 on my tour, my friends Brandon & Sallie in New York, where I’ll be staying for the last 2 weeks of January. The latter box has some paperwork I may still need, and a bunch of western comics and manga that I want to read before I go (and can send on to Sarah before I do). Forcing myself to catch up on comics and manga before I head to Thailand has walked a very fine line between being a pleasure and a chore, but so far it’s stayed on the good side of that line, so yay me.
Then it was just a matter of cramming everything into my trekking pack — everything but my sunglasses, which I seemed to have lost 2 days before and could find no trace of 🙁 <seriously, how do you do emoticons in WordPress?> — having a last bit of lunch, and riding with Mark to the airport. Oh, and carefully watching the vast swirls of emotion flowing around me and doing my best to stay clear of them. This is Jane not crying:
And this is Mark dropping me off at LAX, not not crying because we’re Men gods damn it.
This is niece Brianna not crying:
Richard was at school when I left, hence no chance for a picture. This is the best I can do…
Honestly, human emotions are super inconvenient, I don’t know how you people do it.
The drive to the airport was delightfully quick, and included a very intriguing conversation about possible group travel plans, after my friends eventually retire. Something to keep in mind for the future.
Getting through the TSA wasn’t too bad: the line was super short, but I was really wishing that TSA Fastpass thing had had a chance to come through. They make you take laptops out of your luggage, for reasons that entirely escape me, and I had two (my MacBook Pro and my MSI GS60 Ghost Pro gaming laptop) that I had to dig out of a morass of gaming and computer peripherals and then repack afterwards. So, there was that. Then there was a walk down a long and somewhat dingy terminal corridor, down some stairs, out into a waiting room, onto a shuttle, driving halfway around LAX to where they’d actually put the plane, then waiting 30 minutes in what was effectively a preview of every third world country airport I will visit over the next few years until we boarded. (Many parts of LAX are pretty hideous.) The plane was only two seats on a side, and the overhead compartment was unusually small (as they often are on these smaller planes), and my trekking pack wouldn’t fit. Thankfully, I tried it under the seat in front of mine, most of it fit under the seat, and the part that stuck out didn’t attract the stewardess’s attention. May I always be so fortunate.
Then, 2 hours to “this city”, pickup in the early evening by cousin Lorrie and her husband Shawn in nippy weather (it’s been ranging from 20s to 40s here), and a respectable dinner at The Stumbling Steer Brewery And Gastropub, followed by brief conversation and then off to our respective beds.
Saturday was lots of conversation, pretty evenly divided between politics and Elder Scrolls Online, with a side of Star Trek. (Geeks rule.) (Well, some geeks rule. Shawn’s a Star Wars fan and not a Trekkie, but let he who is without Sith cast the first stone.) Then lunch at a really nice salad/sandwich place, an attempted tour of the “historic” old town (merely attempted, because the parking meters weren’t working (?!?) and we didn’t want a ticket), a stop by REI to pick up new sunglasses for me (thank the maker), a couple more hours of Elder Scrolls Online talk and gaming, and then off to Sandia Peak for a ride up an air tram to the peak and dinner at the restaurant at the top. The Sandia Peak website has a lot of great pictures, but I’ll include a couple of my own because it would have well qualified for a “nice place to sit and read” (in warmer weather, slower winds, and/or arctic clothing):
I’m amazed these are in focus, I was moving so fast to escape the wind. People ski up here, which just goes to prove that people are stupid.
(Also, while I’m here talking about the weather, I should mention how freakin’ dry the air is. LA air is dry — the LA area is technically “semi-arid”, despite the carefully planted, watered, and manicured gardens, but it’s got nothin’ on actual desert. The distance between semi-arid and arid is measured in cracked skin and bleeding sinuses (not mine, but my host’s), and this city is on the other side of that withered and spiky divide. Was Phoenix this dry when I lived there? I no longer recall.)
Dinner was great, with more good conversation — honestly, the closest I come to feeling “blessed” in the traditional sense is when I consider how fortunate I am that my relatives are intelligent, funny, eccentric, and remarkably decent human beings. Friends you choose, and it’s your fault if they’re nimrods. Relatives are a combo of karma, careful incarnation choices, and just random pot lock, and your in-laws even more so. I’ve gotten quite lucky.
Dinner, however, was where I went awry. Discovering that they served Irish coffee, I asked if they could make it decaf and the waiter agreed. Then, later, he asked if I wanted another, and I said yes, another decaf Irish coffee would be great. I strongly suspect that somewhere between my lips and the bartenders hands, one or both times, the “decaf” got lost, because while I went to sleep just fine, I awoke at 1am without a chance in the world of going back to sleep. Not that I didn’t give it the old college try, and got some good meditation in, but by 3am I was giving up and getting up. That’s what happens when I drink caffeine after about 2pm; not like the good old days when I could drink coffee right before bed and still sleep through the night. (The only thing I miss from my teenage years.)
And, so, that brings me to where I am now, with a nice block of time to catch up on the blog in the 4am hour while everyone else is, quite sensibly, asleep. By the way, Lorrie, where the hell is your tea kettle? I’m stuck drinking plain water, at 4am, and it’s not civilized.