I left my heart in Tucumcari

December 31, 2012

swallowsnow1

I’ve waited 11 years for this shot. I got it this morning. The snow was probably gone by the time I got to Amarillo, but it was perfect while it lasted — wet, fluffy, and just deep enough to be photogenic without impeding travel.

Here are some of the visual highlights from my weekend trip to New Mexico:

tucumcarimotel

This is the Tucumcari Motel. It’s on old U.S. 54, a few blocks north of the Mother Road. It’s a pretty cool old building.

tucumcarimotel2

Here are the motel cabins. I’m a sucker for little adobe buildings….

swallowsnow2

swallowsnow3

swallowsnow4

More shots of the Swallow in the snow this morning. I can think of only once in my entire life when I have been more excited to have a camera in my hand. If every day started like this, I could get the hang of mornings.

mountain

Love the fog over Tucumcari Mountain.

revuelto2

revuelto1

graffitirocks

A few scenes along Route 66 between Tucumcari and San Jon.

sanjon2

sanjon1

I’ve always loved this old property on the outskirts of San Jon.

tumble3

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You know I can’t resist any excuse to shoot the Western Motel in San Jon.

bentdoor

While I was getting this shot of the Bent Door in Adrian, a very good-looking firefighter saw my hazard lights on and pulled up to make sure I was OK. Cute Texas firefighter, if you’re reading this, thank you for watching over the travelers when they get to your stretch of 66. You’re one of the reasons Route 66 remains the greatest road trip in America.

I intend to ring in 2013 with a cup of Red Zinger, some ’60s folk on vinyl, and a few hours of work on the novel.

Hope your New Year’s Eve is good, wherever you are.

Emily


Tarantino and Boublil and Schonberg (oh, my!)

December 25, 2012

Thanks to an outrageously inaccurate weather forecast, Ron and I cut our holiday visit to Illinois about 18 hours short and drove back from his parents’ house last night instead of this morning.

When the snow and ice didn’t materialize, we took advantage of the day off to go see both of the Christmas film releases we’d been anticipating.

We caught the Circle Cinema’s 10:30 a.m. showing of Django Unchained. It’s pretty typical Quentin Tarantino fare: great dialogue; lots of violence; plenty of f-bombs; dark humor; exceptional badassery; Samuel L. Jackson; and my favorite addition to the Tarantino universe, Christoph Waltz, who is probably going to get another Oscar nomination. Great movie. If you’re fond of Tarantino, Westerns, revenge fantasies, or all of the above, go see it.

We headed down to Riverwalk this afternoon to catch the matinee of Les Miserables. It was magnificent. Anne Hathaway deserves an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Hugh Jackman made a terrific Valjean; Samantha Barks is probably the best Eponine since Lea Salonga; and Amanda Seyfried does a nice job with a relatively thankless role. (Grownup Cosette requires some technical skill and a decent soprano range, but she doesn’t get a real showstopper song like Fantine’s “I Dreamed a Dream” or Eponine’s “On My Own.” Which is too bad, because Seyfried is pretty good. Makes you wonder what she could do with a meatier role.) The little actor playing Gavroche about tore my heart out, too, and the sets and costumes were spectacular.

The weakest link was Russell Crowe’s Javert. Crowe obviously has the acting chops, but vocally, he just sounds like a rock singer who’s strayed way too far from his comfort zone with way too little training to help him over the bumps. That said, I’ve heard far worse vocal performances in movie musicals, and it’s definitely not a dealbreaker; just a little disappointing for a girl who loves both the actor and the role and really wanted them to be right for each other.

Longtime fans: Watch for the Easter egg the casting director left for you early in the film — and if you go with someone who hasn’t been along for the whole 25-year ride, be prepared to explain why you’re suddenly grinning like the Cheshire Cat.

Emily


Every human want?

December 21, 2012

Mary Baker Eddy assures us that “Divine Love (God) always has met and always will meet every human need.”

I’ve always loved that statement, but what really impresses me is when divine Love meets my human wants.

My life is not perfect. I fight with depression sometimes. I get frustrated. Sometimes I lose sight of my blessings. A healing is slow to appear, or plans fall through, or some unexpected crisis pops up and throws me for a loop.

But I’ve started to notice a pattern in my life: Conditions will seem unsettled for a while, and then out of nowhere, a completely frivolous gift will land in my lap, and within a few weeks, the bumps will smooth out and I’ll settle into some wonderful new adventure I never could have imagined on my own.

As I mentioned the other day, my life has been feeling rather unsettled in recent months.

I expect that feeling won’t last much longer.

Last week, I told Ron that I really wanted to learn to play acoustic guitar. This is not something I need to do; I’d just like to be able to play a few chords so I can accompany myself while I’m singing old folk songs. Ron said that would be fine, but given the pay cut I took when I left the classroom, I wasn’t sure shelling out money for an instrument and lessons was the most responsible idea I’d ever had, and I was a little hesitant about going through with it.

Yesterday afternoon, a friend I hadn’t talked to in several weeks called my cell phone, apropos of nothing. He said he was just worried about me, as I hadn’t seemed like my usual self the last couple of times we’d talked, and he wanted to make sure I was OK.

During the course of our conversation, we discovered that while I was thinking about buying a guitar and hiring somebody to teach me to play it, he was thinking about hiring somebody to edit his dissertation.

He has a spare guitar and has played for years. I have a degree in English and have edited copy for years. If all goes according to plan, a few months from now, he’ll have a Ph.D., and I’ll have a nice repertoire of Woody Guthrie covers I can bust out for tips at open mic nights.

Every human need … and a few wants, just for good measure.

Emily


Folk Thursday: Odetta sings Dylan

December 20, 2012

I considered writing a post about the shootings in Connecticut, but Dylan pretty much covers everything I have to say on the subject, and he does it far more eloquently than I could. Odetta’s voice just reinforces the message.

Emily


I’ve gotta be me

December 17, 2012

I’ve been feeling out of sorts for several months, and for the longest time, I couldn’t figure out why. It finally clicked for me the other night:

I’ve forgotten how to be me.

From 1984 to 2008, my life pretty much revolved around journalism. Then a pink slip sent me into a tailspin, and I landed at the front of a sophomore English classroom. Teaching wasn’t quite as worn-out-Birkenstock-comfortable as journalism, but it appealed to my sense of social justice and felt important enough to be worth doing, so I dove in and let it permeate my life in ways you can’t imagine if you’ve never been there. Done right, teaching is a 24/7/365 job, and if you are not very careful, you can lose yourself in it.

I wasn’t very careful, and by the time I surfaced four years later, I realized that in becoming Ms. Priddy, I’d misplaced Emily, in all sorts of little ways that didn’t occur to me at the time.

I wasn’t too worried. I landed a new job and figured I’d find myself at work.

I didn’t.

My new job is fine, but I’ve been accustomed to having my identity inextricably tangled up in my profession, and PR just isn’t the sort of thing that absorbs your soul and penetrates your heart, so for the first time in my life, Who I Am and What I Do were not synonymous. It was a little disorienting.

The farther I’ve strayed from myself, the more my health — physical, mental, and especially spiritual — has suffered, and a few weeks ago, tired and adrift, I broke down and called a friend of mine who has the dual advantage of being both a Christian Science practitioner and an incorrigible hippie, which was precisely the combination I needed to talk some sense into me. I don’t remember her exact words, but they made me feel better, and I managed to wake up from a long evening of sobbing without the sinus headache that usually follows such indulgences. That may seem a small victory, but given the number of headaches I’ve endured over the past five years, it gave me reason for hope.

Since then, I’ve begun finding scraps of myself here and there, in little things that seem trivial in and of themselves but collectively are much more important than they appear: a trip to a plant nursery to lift my spirits on a cold, gray afternoon; a jar of alfalfa seeds sprouting on my kitchen counter; a conversation with a colleague about our mutual fondness for Neil Diamond; a stroll through the backyard to daydream about gardening projects I might try this spring.

I’m still missing some pieces. But I don’t think they’re lost; I’ve just mislaid them, and I’m kind of enjoying the process of rummaging through my thought to find them again.

Emily


Breathing for a minute

December 12, 2012

I am celebrating this evening. After nearly two years, I have finally finished the second draft of the novel I’ve been working on since 2010. I wrapped up the first draft in February 2011, but before I could get much done in the way of revisions, the story took a wild left turn that struck me as such an improvement over its first incarnation that I just couldn’t turn it down. I’ve spent the past eight months ruminating on the changes, and the story was flowing smoothly until a couple of weeks ago, when a plot element created a lot of logistical issues that bogged down the whole thing, and I just wasn’t sure how to proceed.

The problem finally worked itself out tonight, and I finished the revision a lot faster than I expected. It’s still far from being a finished product — especially in light of the fact that large chunks of it are brand-new and haven’t been through any sort of revision yet — but at least I have a draft in hand, printed out and double-spaced and ready to mark up and sort out in a (hopefully) cohesive manner. It’s not bad, I think, although “good” would probably be a generous description for some of it. A lot of the new passages feel clumsy or a little hackneyed or just don’t flow into each other as smoothly as I’d like. That can all be addressed in the revision process, I think.

I wish I could take off tomorrow and spend the whole day curled up in a coffeehouse with the manuscript and a red pen. It’s hard for me to focus my attention on real people when I’ve got fictional characters waiting for me at home. :/

Emily


Folk Thursday: Leonard Cohen

December 6, 2012

Sorry for my truancy. Excuses include work, travel, work, travel, a minor but annoying illness, and, uh, work. But I’ve finally got my crap together tonight, and it’s Thursday, so here’s a dose of Leonard Cohen. Good for whatever ails you. Wish he’d show up at Woodyfest some year. That’d be pretty freakin’ awesome.

Emily


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