Quick scene from the road. Ron took my picture looking competent with my guitar at the Rudolfo Anaya sculpture park on Route 66 in Santa Rosa, N.M., yesterday. The lighting was weird — hence the strange color — but I kind of like it. If you didn’t know better, you might almost be fooled into thinking I know what I’m doing. (You’d be wrong, but that’s why I’m posting a photo and not a video.)
If I ever get run over by a bus or come down with bubonic Ebola pox or something, go ahead and run this shot with my obit. It’s about the hippiest photo anybody has ever taken of me.
Here’s another photo I found in my archive as I was sorting it. I don’t think I’ve already posted this. It’s a long-abandoned grocery store we spotted one afternoon last summer as we were cruising Highway 51 in Southern Illinois:
If I remember right, this was just a little north of Cairo. I couldn’t resist shooting through the yucca that was blooming at the edge of the property. It was nice to catch a little glimpse of New Mexico in the middle of Southern Illinois.
On a completely unrelated note, I have been wildly productive today.
Despite blowing off a pretrial conference I’d planned to cover this morning in Illinois, I wound up filing two stories, finishing up the lifestyle section layout for Sunday, and editing and prioritizing all the local copy for one of our sister papers that operates out of our office. When I got off work, I picked up groceries, started a batch of yogurt, made hummus to take to work tomorrow, cleaned out the refrigerator, made a batch of red beans and rice and a Buffalo chicken casserole, and loaded the dishwasher.
I forgot to post this at the time, but we spotted a Muffler Man just off Highway 51 in Macon, Ill., when we went to visit Ron’s family just before Christmas:
Based on the odd proportions and the non-standard hand positions, I think this guy is a latter-day variant and not an original M-Man. Awesome that he’s holding a giant fiberglass ice-cream cone. If you go see him, stop at the convenience store nearby, grab a snack and a drink, and pay your respects to the Macon Ironmen trophy.
It has been a full year since the last time I went to sleep in New Mexico.
I think we’re about to hit the upper limits of my patience, though. I’m getting fidgety and impatient and a bit frayed around the edges, and it’s starting to show in my productivity. Next three-day weekend I get, I’m throwing my guitar in the Dreamcar and booking it out to the Land of Enchantment. I need a cobalt sky, a night under the neon, and a chilly New Mexico wind to blow the clutter out of my mind.
Last time I took to the desert to clear my head, I drove down Tucumcari Boulevard, mentally updating my resume and dreaming of how I’d look coaching scholar bowl in Rattler purple, when a thought came to me — calm and quiet and in the second person, the way it always is when it comes from somewhere outside my own will — and the thought was:
Just wait. I’ve got a better idea.
It didn’t make any logical sense at all and was about as far from what I had in mind as it could get, so of course I listened to it, and of course I trusted it.
Three months later, I was organizing a 450-mile move in the opposite direction and feeling better about it than I’d ever imagined possible.
I haven’t had that kind of clarity about anything in a long time. I need the high desert and a few hours on the llano to ground me and remind me how to listen.