duck-shaped pain


9 November 2001
No Sleep 'Till Stuckey's

Saturday, 27 October 2001

(Let me just interject here and mention how odd it felt to write the aforementioned date -- I knew I was gone a while, but not that much of a while…)

Having exhausted all the possibilities for fun in Gallup and back in the apartment, Z. suggested (or I suggested -- can't remember, it's been a while) that we drive to Albuquerque for the day. This is not a short drive -- about two, two and a half hours. But apparently, once you drive it a few times, it seems a lot less short, especially when this drive represents your only real opportunity for fun within the state.

So we drove. Through several scenic and not-so-scenic areas. There was a Stuckey's (rare in this portion of the nation) but we did not stop. The numerous billboards we passed while approaching it tried to talk us into going there, advertising POTTERY -- PECAN LOGS -- GENUINE INDIAN BLANKETS, but we were strong.

Albuquerque (to save myself further spelling exertion, I'm just going to call it by its nickname from now on) is easy to navigate, once you get off the interstate. For the powers that be are reconstructing both of the interstates that pass through the city, kind of in a haphazard way. Lots of random lane closures, weird detours, closing some exits completely, all sorts of things that make driving fun. As some sort of compensation, the city painted some of the interstate overpasses pink and turquoise. How can you be stressed out and whiny about driving when you have pink and turquoise roads to look at? I guess that was the question that was asked.

Long-time readers might remember that back when I started writing this here thing, I was contemplating moving to 'Burque. I stopped thinking about it for a while, not out of a change of mind, really, but because I had all sorts of other things to think about. Well, I'd still move there. I don't know if it would be doable for a while still, but it's still a possibility.

I don't really know how to explain it adequately, but I got a really good feeling about being there. It's nice and relaxed, not pretentious at all, and there's a nice combination of flakey, disgruntled college students and people who work for a living. You see, New Mexico has kind of a problem with extremes. Towns are either unenthralling ranching/trucking/farming centers or they're expensive arts colonies. 'Burque is nice because it's neither one. It has a nice assortment of people, and there's both precious home décor stores and places that do a brisk business in hot n' spicy pork rinds. [1]

Since we didn't have a lot of time to look around (two and a half hour drive back, you know), we concentrated our efforts on the section of the city near the university. We ate lunch at a place called the Flying Star, where I had an excellent sandwich: a couple of pieces of thin grilled steak on sourdough, topped with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and…green chiles. It came with some really nice potato salad -- big chunks of red potatoes, covered in a sauce that was not too mayonnaise but had plenty of dill. Z. had some sort of …thing … that I can't recall at the moment.

We walked around and looked at things after lunch. We went to a couple of record stores, which had a couple of really good things that I considered buying. I just wasn't in the mood to buy records, though. They weren't calling to me, and I figured that was a good enough reason not to get them. I was also trying to save money for the rest of the trip.

Which did not deter me from spending $13 on a blank book, though, at a fancy-ass paper and notecard store down the street. It's a really nice one, though. Somehow I could justify this in my mind (and I also returned a few days later to buy another, bigger, more expensive one).

Lots of things to look at, lots of people to see. Your typical college students and older people who like to hang out where the college students are. I don't need to spell out the variety of stores for you -- you already know what they are.

I bought the new Magic Whistle and a reprint of the first issue of Palookaville at the comic book store. This made up, somehow, for not buying the records. After walking around for a while, we decided to go try to find this bookstore I had heard about, located in another part of town.

It took a bit of driving, but we finally found it, with a detour on the way to stop at a thrift store, where Z. bought some ugly pants to use as part of his Halloween costume.

The store is called Page One, and there are actually two of them - a big store carrying all new books, and then a used store across the street. They're both located in pretty generic strip malls, which I wasn't expecting, but they're both good stores. The new store had a really large magazine selection, which I liked. I did buy any books, though, because I am lame. I did buy two packs of PeopleCards, which are these pretty cool trading cards that feature regular, everyday people. I got some really silly lumpy people, and I was pleased.

Indian food for dinner. I had saag paneer, which was good. Z. did not have saag paneer, and that was also good. Mango lassi was also involved. And some pappadums.

The drive back to Zuni was uneventful, which is as it should be, and we were tired and whiny when we got back.

Sunday, 28 October, 2001

Sunday was a mellow day. We stayed close to the apartment, eating leftover Indian food and some Girl Scout cookies (Samoas) that Z. had squirreled away in his fridge. We listened to CDs, tormented the cats with the laser pointer some more and drank beer. Z. got me to drink a Bud Light voluntarily. It was the only beer available, and it was cold and alcoholic, so after a beer or two I didn't mind. All the teachers down there do a lot of beer drinking, because there isn't much else to do. When you start drinking in quantity, your regard for quality vanishes bit by bit. Bud Light is considered by some down there to be the "good beer." It was sort of a refreshing thing to drink, in some respects. You don't have to think about how it tastes. You don't have to be too concerned with how much it cost. After you're done with a can, you can throw it at the cat or at a roadside sign and not do too much damage.

During the afternoon (pre-beer), we drove around the town of Zuni a bit. There are a lot of dogs there, along with some really nice rock formations and a lot of mobile homes. We drove out on some of the back roads, looking at old abandoned cars slowly becoming part of the landscape. We also went to the town museum and looked at exhibits and then also stopped at some stores selling jewelry and other traditional crafts. I tried on some really gorgeous bracelets, but even with Z.'s discount, I still couldn't afford one. Maybe some other visit.

At night, I packed a bit and we sat around some more, playing CDs and drinking beer. It was a good time.

[1] Which, incidentally, I love.

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