Archive for the ‘El Paso’ Category

Yesterday I had to leave the house and actually drive to the office for the traffic proofread, a monthly annoyance affectionately known as the proof to those of us who must perform it, an all-female ensemble whose members rarely leave the house unless it involves picking up take-out food or buying computer parts on sale at Office Depot. For us, the horror of the proof begins in the morning when we face our closets and are confronted with the reality of our shabby wardrobes. When you work from home for years and years, your wardrobe can become shabby. I’ve already reported here that my daily uniform is a ragged sarong and a tank top. Going into the office is always a wardrobe crises.

I passed over a comfy T-shirt that proclaims My boyfriend thinks I’m at the movies and instead chose a sleeveless yellow top that makes me look as if I’m about to go door-to-door offering The Watchtower. But the bottom half of me was a trial to say the least as I could not wear a sarong. I settled on a pair of ragged painter’s pants cut off at the knees, figuring I’d be seated at a desk all day and no one would see my shame. I chose them for their myriad pockets, which I could stuff with cigarettes and candy, my cell phone, and my glasses.

Before leaving the house I grabbed Jimmy to bring for protection, Jimmy Jimmy Pin being my German Shepherd angel pin, because God help me if my eyes should glaze over and I let a typo or the word “motherfucker” get into the magazine, and also because the drive into El Paso is something I consider dangerous and, were the real Jimmy still alive, he’d be my co-pilot in my passenger seat. So I had to make due with his angel likeness. I’ve become really strange since moving here, stranger than normal, and while driving in the clusterfuck that is Cape Cod traffic doesn’t faze me at all, driving in El Paso gives anxiety attacks, and again, God help me if I have an anxiety attack on the freeway. While I’m not 100% positive about God intervening should such an attack occur, I have the utmost confidence in Jimmy. He’d never allow such a thing to happen to me. As a matter of fact, the start of my anxiety attacks began shortly after the death of Jimmy.

Jimmy was always a good companion and an alert watchdog, but in death his abilities have taken on mythic proportions. In life he weighed 150-pounds and could open doors; in death I’ve got him weighing 175 and driving a backhoe while smoking a cigar. If a dove wanders into our house and perches on my oriental rug I think to myself this never would have happened if Jimmy had been here. If I am shortchanged at the supermarket by a girl who cannot speak English I think to myself, this never would have happened if Jimmy had been here. Wind storm? Jimmy would have stopped it. Wrong pizza delivered by Dominoes? Jimmy would have prevented it. And so on. So when I drive into the city for the proof, Jimmy comes with me.

Circle_K I stopped at the Circle K for a cold drink before I got on the freeway because you can’t drive anywhere in El Paso without some sort of drink with you at all times. You might think it’ll be okay to drive without a drink, but it’s not. You’ll get stuck in traffic and suddenly realize you’re so dehydrated you’re going to pass out. Or a dust storm comes up and you’re mouth is suddenly filled with dirt. So I needed a drink for safety reasons and I stopped to get one.

A couple ahead of me at the soda fountain were filling their Coleman cooler with ice from the soda machine. I’m pretty sure such a tactic is illegal, holding a cooler up to the soda machine for free ice while the counter clerk chats on his cell phone, but by the looks of these two it was not going to be me who ratted them out. Every now and then they’d turn around and look at me, so I smiled tried to be friendly, just to let them know that their stealing ice was perfectly fine by me. I said, “You’re very wise, you’re gonna need ice on a hot day like cooler this!” But this got no reaction from them. They continued to fill their cooler at their leisure and give me an occasional glance. So I tried again and said, “Personally, I can’t go anywhere without a drink filled with lots of ice. I love ice!” But they continued to ignore me and the counter clerk continued to give his review of Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man over the telephone to someone named Skids.

Driving into work with well-earned Diet Coke, I paid strict attention to my surroundings. Two proofs ago, I didn’t have Jimmy with me and I was so stressed out I drove right past my exit and out into the desert. Waaay out into the desert. Surrounded by cactus and dirt and fearing I would drive right into Van Horn (home of the dreaded Tommy Lee Jones, whom I am terrified of running into because I blog about often), I pulled over to the side of the road and called Buck to scream at him to come get me. He refused and I ended up turning around in a rattlesnake patch and driving back into the city. Never wanting to repeat this episode, I now pay close attention to the city as I’m driving through, and yesterday I did so by announcing landmarks to my Jimmy angel pin. “Okay Jimmy, there’s UTEP and according to the sign they’ve got a summer camp for kids starting soon… Jimmy look! There’s California Waterbeds!…Now we’re coming up on K-Mart, but don’t get too excited, Jimmy. We can’t stop there today.”

And so on.

But I got to work safely, lived through the proof (even though there was construction going on outside our office a jackhammer gave us all terrible headaches), had my lunch from the vending machine, and drove home in a combination rain and dust storm (describing it to Jimmy the entire way).

buffy Then I came home and threw myself down on my bed, watched a few episodes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer  while waiting for the Xanax to take effect, and tried to block the whole day out of my mind as I was passing out.

I’m hoping today is better.









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Today’s Happy Headlines

I’m still buried in work but I wanted to share with you today’s happy headlines: the heat, the cost of food and fuel, and those bastards the Lakers. Today’s headlines are just awful. As reported, it’s still hot as a bastard. Speaking of which, I recently discovered that tacking “as a bastard” onto the end of just about everything is a New England thing. As in:

“It’s hot as a basdid today.”

“It’s cold as a basdid today.”

“I was sweatin’ like a basdid.”

And the driving related: “Didja see that guy? He was goin’ like a basdid.”

The person who brought this “bastard” business as being a New Englandism to my attention is from El Paso, but he went to college in Boston and he’s well-traveled. So when I said something about it being “hot as a basdid,” he started laughing and said he hadn’t heard that expression in years. Then he told me we’re the only people who use this expression and that we use it for just about everything. I found this amazing.

Well, back to work.

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[Photo from smartdrying.com by the Vermont Clothesline Co.]

 Today it’s so hot and windy it seemed like an obscenity to run the clothes dryer. So I hung a clothesline and put the laundry out to dry…but half the laundry had dried before I finished hanging out the whole basket of clothes! It left me in such awe, it was like some kind of freaking science project, like making a clock out of a potato.

People from the Southwest will think I’m insane to be so awestruck by laundry drying in five minutes, but in New England the humidity is such that laundry takes all day to dry, and sometimes it never dries at all and you find yourself taking damp laundry off the line as the sun is setting (even though it’s been hanging out there for 8 or 9 hours). Yeah, those were the good old days. If you’ve never had a broken dryer and sat waiting in vain for diapers to dry on a clothesline on a humid summer day while your kid run around bareassed, you haven’t lived.

So, wow. I’m so impressed I might do this all the time. And to think it’s only taken me four years to discover this. There should be a book filled with all these tips called “So, Now You Live In Texas…”

Or better still, “The Dummies Guide To Living In The Southwest.”


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The Land Of 1,000 Naps

El Paso


0- humidity

I’m double posting this, so please forgive me. I’m just trying to get caught up on my blogging and while I do have plans for a Life With Buck transcript/post, I thought I’d just kill two birds with one stone and post this particular post on What I’m Doing Right Now as well. Having vanished from the Interweb for the past couple of weeks  I’ve had a lot of inquiries lately as to whether or not I am still alive. This is flattering, thank you, and the answer is yes I am alive and Buck is alive. 

Buck has been busy but what the hell have I been doing? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

During this hiatus, my youngest son Max was visiting on his break between school and his summer job on Fishers Island. Below is a photo of Max and I in a park in downtown El Paso that we call Alligator Park (I don’t know the real name, we call it that because they used to keep live alligators in the fountain back in the Old Wild West days). Max is affecting the sarcastic fake smile he always puts on whenever you’ve taken a couple of photos of him frowning and you yell at him, “Smile for crying out loud!” Then he does that smile. If you’re lucky (read wealthy) enough to be “summering” on Fishers Island this year and decide to drop in at the yacht club, Max will be among those who are preparing your meals. You may not recognize him, however, as he will be clean shaven and dressed in chef’s whites, but you should ask for him anyway and tell him you saw him here in my blog. He’ll be appalled, but he’ll (more than likely) be polite about it.

At this so-named Alligator Park, they have stone alligators in the fountain to remind you of what once was. Alligators, as you can imagine, were quite an oddity in El Paso back in the 1800s.


We also went to the flea market that day. Here’s Max in front of a vender who sells only Mexican wrestling masks. Try as I might, I was unable to convince him to buy one.

He made me tiramisu while he was in El Paso, helped Buck trim the notorious palm tree growing up through the middle of our house, and also helped Buck set up my pool. Remember my pool from last summer? I can’t recommend these inflatable pools enough; if you’re not a swimmer and you’re just looking to cool off, these pools are the ticket: 10-ft across, 30-inches deep, and holds 1,000 gallons of water for your cooling pleasure. They’re $49 at K-Mart and come complete with a filter a bunch of chlorine tablets. I keep mine in the shade because El Paso has been about 100+ degrees every day (and night) and I don’t want to boil myself. I take a good refreshing soak about twice a day. It’s good for the soul and keeps me from passing out. Plus, it’s inflatable, so in the winter you can store it in a box.

Although the temperature has been ungodly, Buck has been painting our courtyard every fucking day, ten or twelve hours a day, for two weeks. This courtyard is inside our house, but there is no roof. The doors were a horrible flesh color, like a crayon, and the stucco/abobe was riddled with cracks that had to be filled and painted. Here he is starting on one wall:

Here’s that same wall after he painted it, it’s a kind of cafe color now (with jalapeno doors) and I love it:

We’re having a new floor of stone tiles put in here, and then we’ll be able to add a nice potted garden and a (tasteful) fountain of some sort. In the meantime, the only thing I can grow here In El Paso is a strange grouping of cactus that we inherited with the house. I don’t really “grow” them, they just keep living, but at least they bloom in the spring when I give them some MiracleGro. Here they are getting ready to bloom:

During the day while Buck is painting in the horrid-horrid heat, listening to Coast to Coast on CD, and drinking gallons of ice water or Gatorade, I’ve been hiding in our guest room (because you can’t hear the telephone in there) and reading The Hummingbird’s Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea (which I am obsessed with), Rolling Stone magazine and Vanity Fair. I also make notes about my own book, and take thousands of catnaps. Thousands and thousands of catnaps. The heat does that to me, even when I’m in an airconditioned house. When the sun goes down (and it’s still 900-degrees outside) Buck and I hide in the living room (which is cavernously dark and as cool as a refrigerator) and eat barbecued chicken and fruit salad (which I’m also obsessed with) while watching re-runs of The Office and My Name Is Earl. Below is a bowl of my current food obsession:

And that’s what I’ve been doing, indulging myself in what many people would consider nothing. But for me it’s a good thing. I feel good, good enough to go outside and have a soak in my pool before I retire to the guest room for some afternoon reading.

Peace Out,


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       We have an open-air courtyard in the middle of our house and at 2:30 this morning I was sitting in it smoking a cigarette when a bat flew at my fucking head. Yes a bat.

     Of course I SCREAMED, because even though I like bats I hadn’t been expecting this one, and our Chihuahua, who was still in bed (our bedroom is right off the courtyard; Southwestern architecture is really-really unusual) and she started barking because that’s all she could really do from her vantage point. She’s too small to get off the bed unassisted.

     Even though we never smoke inside, I went running through the house with my cigarette (right past the bed, where Buck lay comatose and Stella was vibrating with anger) and I grabbed Sidney (my poodle) and ran outside to our back patio. Sidney, I knew, wouldn’t let a bat fly at my head. He’d already proven himself last week when some bird FLEW AT MY FACE one afternoon while I sat typing at our patio table. If it hadn’t been for Sidney–who came out of nowhere and fearlessly jumped in front of me to meet the bird mid-air–that pigeon would have pecked my eyes out.

(I have a third dog, a Pomeranian named Timmy, but he’s quite elderly and really isn’t interested in anything that’s going on around him. He won’t even stand up unless there’s a bite-sized piece of steak involved and even then it’s iffy; usually he makes you bring it to him.)

     Sidney (pictured right) wandered around the backyard sniffing around for stray cats while I finished my cigarette, sulked about the bat, and reluctantly flipped through a copy of Cycle World that was lying around. I remembered that the last time I saw a bat was on Cape Cod. We had an outdoor shower and if you showered at dusk you could see bats darting through the sky. But the last time one of them flew at my head was when I was a teenager in the late 1970s.

     I was at an illegal party in the Bourne Town Forest with about 40 other teenagers (think of the movie Dazed and Confused). We had a bonfire going, which probably kept the bats at bay, but then a few of my girlfriends needed to pee. Being a true girlfriend, I of course went along. We made a long trek far from the bonfire and into the woods. I was standing in the dark with four or five girls who were peeing (which is hard to do when you’re a drunk girl in the forest because it requires such intricate balance to keep the pee off your jeans) and because I wasn’t peeing I was the only one standing upright. Then … THUD, something whacked me in the fucking head. At first I thought a tree branch had fallen on me, but then I heard flapping and I looked up and saw all these bats flying right over us, just inches from our precious teen bodies. I screamed of course, which begot more screaming, and chaos ensued. 

     I never took acid or THC or whatever (because I’m a big chicken whose drug interests, even back then, have always been limited to a decent prescription sleeping pill), and even though I’d been drinking beer and was probably a little stoned on pot I know this really happened. A bat hit me in the fucking head when I was a teenager and it almost happened again at 2:30 this morning.

      To add insult to injury, when I finally went back to sleep … well, okay, let me say that I’ve been working hard on my novel and it’s always in my thoughts, even when I’m asleep … I was asleep and this great line came to me. It was the very best line I’ve ever come up with and I would even go so far as to say it was profound. But Sidney started squealing like a pig for some reason and this line, this great and profound line, popped right out of my head. I looked at the clock and it was 7:04 AM. He wanted to go out so he squealed the line right out of my head and I still can’t remember it.


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Dear Buck,

Seeing that you have barricaded yourself in your office, I regret to inform you via the Internet that a piece of the dishwasher has fallen off. Through no fault of my own, it simply dropped to the floor without warning. The dishwasher is still running so you may want to go and have a looksee to make sure gallons of soapy water are  not gushing onto the kitchen tile.



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February 19 – Doves On A Wire

These doves were watching me today. I think we have an inordinate amount of doves in El Paso, but maybe it’s normal. I know nothing about birds of the Southwest. This group reminded me of The Birds, but then I got to thinking how anyone who has ever seen that movie probably looks at birds this way.

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