Wednesday, April 26, 2017

the road from here to work is steep - almost 6000 feet straight down for about ten miles, but then, i get to the town, alamogordo, and turn south and follow the edge of the mountains around the back side of town. that little road goes just up on the ridge enough so that i can see the mountains tower up against me on the left, and see the whole wide tularosa valley, white sands and all, to the right. and the town itself looks very low-slung, adobe-like, shining in the morning sun. usually in the morning the sun hasn't quite gotten totally over the mountains yet, but it's made daylight in the valley, and it's definitely one of the nicest times of day down there - cool, a little shady, sometimes even the tiniest bit of dew on what generally is the harshest of deserts.

alamogordo is my new town, so i always take that back road so as to have a better view of it, and ease into living here. i actually live up on the mountain, but i work in alamo, and by virtue of that have seen, if not know, almost every kid in town. sure some of them get segregated off into the special school, because they got into fights or got arrested or whatever. most of them though are right there in the high school, a big cross section of a town of about 30,000 - which includes a major air force base by the way - everybody 15-18, roughly.

i try to adjust to the town in my own way - "embrace tiger, return to mountain" is my motto. as a sub i see lots of the trouble. it's disheartening to see whole classes refuse to work, refuse to think, and then flunk all the tests. this is not how it's supposed to work. i tell myself, actually, it's "refuse to work for the sub," not just "refuse to work." but talking to the teachers, i know that sometimes it's "refuse to work." the nation is getting steadily dumber. we sometimes blame it on the middle schools - but down there, really, it's the same problem. i don't know the solution yet. in fact, i have no idea. but i can tell you, a sub probably isn't going to solve it.

it's a small town that, like many of them, is somewhat self-absorbed. in other words, you're more likely to hear people argue about the local cat shelter, than about trump. but i kind of like that. people in lubbock had strong opinions about lubbock, but i never heard them. they were too busy working, keeping up a busy lifestyle, driving around town. here, the drive never takes you more than five or ten minutes, unless you live up the hill, and people hang around talking a lot. they know each other too well. the teachers know the kids too well, and even know their parents too well. i'm the only one, really, that doesn't know anyone.

it's actually somewhat isolated geographically, more by desert than by distance itself. las cruces is fifty or sixty miles straight west, across the tularosa basin and the white sands; it's mostly white sands missile range, and it's very dry. the road is four-lane all the way, and people go eighty, ninety, whatever they want. but it's still a long haul, very hot in the summer, and i find it takes all day to go to "cruces" and back. el paso is even worse. it's maybe eighty or ninety miles, straight south, across desert as well (this time it's called the otero shelf, but still is mostly missile range) - and el paso has the advantage of being much larger, a major city, and you can walk to mexico from there. el paso has 6 or 700,000 people, to las cruces' 100,000, but las cruces is a college town, which makes it slightly more desirable in some people's eyes; las cruces is also in new mexico. always an advantage.

el paso is built on steep hills that come right down into the river; no matter where you are in el paso, you can see mexico. this is interesting, and has an effect, definitely. it's a bustling place, good economy, people are busy. traffic is especially busy. i've taken to avoiding it, but it has minor league baseball and a good waterpark. so they say.

back on the mountain, here it is april 26, and we're still talking about a frost. it's cold up here. i planted peppers and they might die. in fact, there may even still be snow in places. we are the only place in the whole southwest where this is possible; but, what did i know? i planted them anyway. i got them for my birthday. first time in my life, i got past my birthday, and there was still frost. but unlike most north country environments, we still enjoy the long days. the sun is still slowly setting; cold as it is, it's still sunny. and clear, and fresh. we're doing our best to adjust.

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