Sunday, August 19, 2007

It took a Los Lobos concert to remind me: I am a New Mexican

To look at me (except for the sun damaged face) you would not pick up any appreciation for the Latin rock / Tex Mex rhythms of Los Lobos. I am 5'10", freckled, 40+, and as white-bred looking as they come. My parents were from Kansas. However, it is tonight that I am reminded that I am New Mexican, through and through

Its 91 degrees at 7 as we pull into the Albuquerque Zoo parking lot. The kids are loaded onto a beatup old wagon, and we make our way to the entrance. Its an interesting mix of mostly sun-damaged faces - young professionals, retired engineers, hippies, vatos, matching his and hers ponytails. We all want the same thing - a shady spot to park our gear and hunker down for the Los Lobos concert. The usual jockeying for position, smell of KFC, barbeque beef, and the slightly acrid scent of zoo. As the sun drops closer to the horizon the shade gets longer and the crowd unknowing heaves a collective sigh of relief. Lines queue up for a beer, burger, bathrooms, but its a relaxed, it's going to be alright kind of attitude rather than the corporate hustle and bustle, let's git this thing moving kind of line. Strangers chat with others, musing whether its a better idea to buy a bottle of wine or a glass. The band comes out, starts to tune up, lets lose with a couple of Santana riffs. Obligatory announcements - "don't block your neighbors view - dance over there, please..." and we settle in for the music. Shoes are off, blankets spread, cicada are singing, cottonwood umbrellas obscure a slightly hazy upper atmosphere. A bass guitar starts to tremble, just different enough to hear that its a live show. soon there is an agglomeration of guitar notes overlayed with drum, a flute, even an accordian. In an interesting juxtaposition, a graceful swan swims in front of the stage while the crowd starts to get up to dance to the pulsating rhythm.

The absolute best part of the night is now, watching my boys burst into dance. It is in this moment I realize that I am truly content, a rare occasion. Since we picked a spot with a view that was slightly obscured by the biggest cottonwood at the zoo, there was an oasis of grass in the field of blankets. The strip of grass ran about 20 feet. I think Brett is inspired by watching "High School Musical 2" last night - his solo performance included hat throwing, bows to the crowd, and flying feet. I watch with surprise as Brett tries to do some of the same spin moves with Grant that I have done with him in the living room. Grant laughs as I pick him up and spin him around in circles until I get dizzy... I wish Frank is here. They dance their hearts out in bare feet, finally collapsing on the blanket. Finally, with the encore in full swing, the boys are loaded sweatily back into the wagon and ride in relative silence back to the truck.

I realize part of why I am happy. My family is close - my brother came with us tonight. I also know my sons are growing up exposed to a culture I have come to love. At my college job, we listened and breathed and danced in the back room to cumbias, salsas, rancheras. I realize that I know the words to "la bamba" from elementary school and state fair, not from the movie. I eat chile on my burger, and revel in the funkiness of the cars driving down central on the way home from the zoo. Low riders, beat up pickups, and a red scooter parked next to the Sunshine Theatre.

In my 30's, I read a Georgia O'Keefe biography. I remember identifying with the sentiment "New Mexico is a hard place to live." For tonight, that is definitely not true. I hope it stays that way for a long time to come.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Change is in the air

Transitions are constant this month, and we approach them with mixed emotions, but one of the emotions is a sense of loss. By far the biggest transition coming for us is Lindy, our beloved nanny, moving on. I know millions of moms who take care of their kids without the assistance of a nanny, but I know my kids are better because Lindy has been part of their lives, and ours. I face the coming weeks mostly with trepidation, as I know how much I have come to depend on Lindy for her part in our lives. I also know she has continued to be part of her other charges' lives, and look forward to keeping her in our network as well.

Another big transition has been Tally's move. Brett's buddy Tally and his family have made the big leap to San Antonio, and Brett and Tally have been close friends since preschool. While it hasn't hit home too much with Brett yet, when school starts, I think he will feel it acutely.

While Rusty has been a GREAT addition to the family, his transition hasn't been perfect either. He apparently has some elements of fear aggression that we are working through. In the house with us, or on a leash, he is the sweetest dog. However, if he gets out in the front yard off leash, he is highly likely to run after cars or other dogs. While he hasn't gotten in a fight yet, I am sure he has scared a neighbor or two. We are working with some dog handlers to understand how to modify this behavior. They say it's common, but I still wish I knew better what to do to make him less fearful outside the house.

On a happier note, our little social butterfly Grant is going to start polishing his social skills in preschool at Sunset Mesa this year. We did a trial last week, and think he is going to blossom around other kids.

Other than the transitions, our last couple of weeks have been fulfilling. Frank is in Vegas with his brother, we've gotten to do Biopark Music, movies, neighborhood walks with the dogs (and cats, much to our neighbors amusement), housewarming at Heather's, and even ITZ as a back to school present for the boys. We took my mom's sister Vicki to the major metropolitan center of Ma-drid New Mexico, and regaled her with second hand stories of the shooting of the movie "Wild Hogs." The boys, I, and Bruce are going to the Zoo to see Los Lobos tonight - which should be a hoot.

All in all, life is good.

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