Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Not in Berkeley anymore . . .

Amongst all the moments I've experienced in Albuquerque, New Mexico thus far, the experience of grocery shopping has been the most frustrating. (I say this lightly because I'm generally a really positive person and try to make the most of any event.)

I don't think we're in the Bay Area anymore, Toto.

In obtaining provisions for my expected day-long trip to the Petroglyph Historical Monument, I wanted to make sandwiches from the faux deli slices I've come to love so very very much, Tofurkey. So Felicia dropped me off at the local grocery store, Smith's, and I snaked through the aisles glancing at every name brand carried. They had MorningStar Chick'n patties (+10 points for Abq), and Amy's Organic foods (awesome, +15 points). At least I knew where I could go if I needed a quick dinner. But as long as there's no microwave or outlet in the middle of the desert, this made for terrible pic-a-nic food.

I grabbed some salad ingredients and a bunch of spinach before making my way to the checkout. I felt a little bit defeated but obviously the cashier would know for certain what brands were carried.

"Did you find everything alright, ma'am?" Here I go:
"No, I was looking for Tofurkey. Do you carry any?"

She looked very puzzled.

I explained: "It's like deli slices made of tofu, but it looks like turkey. Tofurkey."

She remained confused. I was beginning to think I should have stashed some of my own on the flight down.


"Let me see if _______ knows if we have any," she said as she called for the bag boy in the next shopping line. "Excuse me, ____ ? This woman has a question for you." He seemed more than happy to oblige, judging by the dopey smile on his face framed by a poor excuse for a goatee.

"Do you have Tofurkey?" I inquired.

The smile faded. "What is it?" he asked.

"It's like turkey. Made of tofu. For vegetarians," I clarified.

With each additional sentence I felt like I was digging my own grave with my own soy shovel. He looked confused as to whether I should be taken seriously or not. So I carried on:

"That's why it's called Tofurkey. It's turkey, made of tofu. Tofurkey. Get it? Wokka, wokka, wokka!" (I figured this was turning into a spectacle, I might as well add the icing.)

He burst out laughing. I gave them my money and left, but not before recognizing the privilege I have of living meat-free in the Bay Area and laughed at myself.

With the ubiquity of hot-air balloons so ingrained into the Abq culture and mindset you'd think that by simply clicking my shoes three times, SOMEONE would take up the hint.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


A year ago I was in Monterey, California for a math teachers conference. My high school had paid for my registration and I was excited to learn all that I could out of this conference and get some discussion generated with other math teachers.

I had rented a car, got a hotel room overlooking the ocean. Dressed professionally, and at night went shopping by myself in Carmel. For the first time I had money to do this and for the first time I felt like I was settling in to something that would count as a career and for the first time I realized I was growing, this was the adult thing, that adults did. It was the first time in a really long time that I felt like I was allowing myself to be alone and do what I wanted. It felt like I didn't need anyone's permission to do what I felt like and I didn't need to justify what I was doing -- buying things, eating out, driving around aimlessly (er, I mean "cruising").

I had felt trapped for the the better part of eight months, under another person's watch. I had felt pressure to justify the things that I had done out of whim, and "because I felt like it" wasn't good enough. I felt the pressure and obligation of allowing another person to do things that would later hurt me and cut me deeply that I'm still repairing from. I felt free in Monterey. And I felt like contacting you.

I remember sitting alone, in the king size bed of my hotel room and hating the polyester bedsheets but at the same time taking in their warmth. After the sun went down, the beautiful view of the ocean disappeared and chill ensued. There was shit on the tv and I knew I couldn't contact home because nobody would pick up. Contacting home and getting an away message would only make me feel lonelier; but somehow I knew that if I called you that you would pick up. A cockiness in me knew that you would answer because it was me, and knew that you still loved me despite all that had been said and done. I started dialing your number after rehearsing it several times in my brain, and perfectly every time as if tattooed into my psyche.

But the fear of the unexpected stopped me. I didn't want to hear another voice answering. I didn't want to deal with any negative emotions that could have arisen if any heavy shit was brought up.

Then the same cockiness that had assumed you would still love me was overcome with humility. This was just not the right thing to do. It had been the better part of eight months and the only reasonable thing for both of us to have done was move on. I had tried my best to move on and it would only make sense that you would have moved on, too. Perhaps my assumption was wrong; perhaps you didn't love me anymore and I was only thinking these things to make myself feel better in this moment of loneliness. Perhaps I never even entered your mind because it was a passing phase. Then I realized that I didn't know what I was thinking, or whom I was loving, or where the direction my life was going anymore. I had felt full with ambition to contact you but was left feeling emptier than before.

After a few moments I realized I didn't want to deal with you. Then I realized I didn't want to deal with anybody. It had all just become too much. I fell asleep in the hotel room with shit on television and five different sizes of towels and an insufficient amount of shampoo/conditioner blend in the shower.

Less than a month after that you contacted me, and my entire world spun upside down yet again. I was ecstatic, angry, confused, ambivalent, amused, and grateful.