I have lived in Albuquerque almost my whole life. To be more specific, I am a product of the Northeast Heights. That's the part of town where I've lived the most, where I went through public school and where I spend the majority of my time. But now I work Downtown. Having worked down here for several months, now I feel like I get what Downtown is all about. It's not as intimidating as it once was. The narrow roads and one way streets now only semi stress me out. I like walking the streets and noticing the varied people who congregate in this area. I've grown to love watching the trucks unload the cases of booze in the morning from the view from my desk and seeing the bands unloading equipment in the alleyway on my walk to my car. Having said all that though, today I did miss my turn and was almost immediately lost. Turns out, I haven't really explored more than my natural route down here. The only thing that saved me is that Albuquerque streets are on a grid system. I think I might have some more exploring to do.
When you work Downtown, when you're here day after day, you deaden a bit to some of the things you see. A couple huddled in a doorway on a cold November morning, a worn-out blanket barely covering them; cops on bikes pulling a homeless man up off of the sidewalk, a puddle of vomit at his feet; an elderly gentleman in suit and tie, stalking down the street and shouting curses at the demons leaking from his head; none of these things provoke a second glance after a while. There's a lot of suffering here for sure and very little that one person can do. A dollar here, a dollar there, maybe that helps a bit, but the overall feeling is one of powerlessness, and slowly you become hardened to it.
Today, though, I noticed this sign in the window of Lindy's Diner, and that numbness thawed just a little bit. No, Lindy's isn't going to solve the problems of homelessness and hunger. And one single meal on one single day isn't "enough." But it is something, a reminder that hardness isn't the answer, that compassion is. And that even if we can never do enough, we can, and should, still try.
Things I see on my way to work:
(3) APD Cars, two going to the same destination, and quickly.
(1) Santa Fe Police Car, attracting disdainful looks.
(1) Back bumper of a Ford Mazda. Bumper sticker reads ‘If you can see this you’re too close’.
(1) Shattered brake light, presumably from the same car.
(1) Shattered headlight, presumably from the tailgating asshole.
(2) People dressed nicely, a man and a woman separately. Life has treated them well, they tell themselves as they scream into their cell phones.
(5) People dressed casually, half wait for the bus, the others walk. The ones with company don’t seem to mind as much the time of day and the bitter cold.
(3) People dressed in many layers of tattered clothing. One sleeps in a slouched position, one waits for the bus, and one walks seemingly aimlessly.
(3) Very large murals painted on the walls of city buildings. People from different cities would wonder how vandalists are able to create such intricate pieces without anyone stopping them.
(2) City buses, struggling to turn the tight corners of small downtown streets.
(4) Pieces of actual graffiti. Two are small tags with gang names and the others are aborted works of art not commissioned by the government.
(1) Puddle of indeterminable nature. It hasn’t rained in a week, and the puddle smells like a pit to hell.
I'm a runner. It's hard to pinpoint the moment in my adulthood when I decided to lace up the tennis shoes that my mother bought for me one Christmas (specially designed for the woefully flat footed) and take a jog around my North Campus neighborhood. It's even harder to determine why I continued. In my adolescence I was never particularly athletic and my gym class's Presidential Physical Fitness exam timed mile run was an event greeted with unparalleled dread. Yet, despite its mysterious origins, my enthusiasm and commitment to running has been one of the few consistencies of my adult life.
For almost as many years as I have lived in Albuquerque, I have lived north of UNM's campus. I had runs of every possible length and difficulty plotted out and committed to memory—a trek around the golf course followed by a tour of Nob Hill, Indian School to San Mateo and back around. Some runs were undertaken with such frequency that I had memorized every dip in cement, every uneven step.
Recently I moved my life and all of my belongings to a house Downtown. Creating circuits for runs has given me the opportunity to explore my new surroundings and interact with my new neighbors, for better or for worse. Whether they're passing by on a creaky bicycle or in an SUV, everybody, I mean, everybody downtown has something to say to a runner. Or, let me contextualize this further, every man has something to say to a female runner. Sometimes they are shouts of encouragement, sometimes they are vaguely threatening queries into my relationship status. Regardless, the cross section of pedestrians, car traffic and my running routes have increased. This has given my runs an entirely new texture. Formerly an hour-long foray into my own thoughts, my runs now seem to put me on the defensive. I startle when cars drive by and honk, I tense reflexively when I cut across a street without a streetlight. I'm not sure if I'm finally taking to heart my mother's advice about being on guard and carrying pepper spray, or if I'm just not used to living in what could be loosely described as an urban environment.
This past weekend I participated in the 32nd annual Duke City Marathon on a relay team. It was nice to see the usual dynamic subverted. Instead of traffic, runners—more than 5,000 of them—dominated the Downtown streets. Traffic was rerouted as masses of bodies in spandex trotted from Third Street and Tijeras to Paseo del Norte and back again. The most chatter I heard was the offering of water by volunteers at the intermittent “motivation stations” and the simple call, “on your left!” as cyclists sharing the Bosque Trail cruised past. Yet, as my teammate rounded the corner on to Third Street, an onlooker from the still-cold shadows of downtown's tall buildings, shouted, “woo, girl! Look at those long legs!” From where I rested on the curb, I had to shake my head. Encouragement or catcall? It felt like an affront that as my teammate accomplished something important, and yes, physical, that all that this idyl man in the shadows had to remark on was the aesthetics of her legs, not how strong and powerful they are, but how attractive. I can't speak for every woman sprinting passed you, but to the bystanders at organized marathons or my marathon runs around the neighborhood: no matter what you have to say, your silence is more appreciated than your compliments.
Investigations and arrests are ongoing in the beating and burning of an Afghan woman.
Uber-conservative republican Ted Cruz announces his bid for the presidency.
Pope Francis performs “Half Miracle” with liquified saint’s blood.
A shooting at Los Altos Skate Park leaves one dead and six injured.
New plans are in the works for a rennovated Downtown ABQ.
Sunday night’s crash suspect is identified.
Questa cousins bring Indian bikes to ABQ.
A con man apologizes to his pregnant victim.
Scarecrows outnumber people in one Japanese village.
A man paints himself black to avoid the police. Fails.
A man was arrested after being declared dead two years ago.
Texas health officials have ordered that anyone who visited the room of the first Ebola patient in a Dallas hospital pretty much quarantine themselves for 21 days.
Vice President Joe Biden's son was discharged from the Navy Reserves for dipping into some nose candy.
President Obama is set to appoint Ron Klain as his “Ebola czar.”
Denver police warn parents of trick-or-treaters that some candy might not be what it seems … aka it's got weed in it.
MMA fighter Jonathan Koppenhaver (aka War Machine) attempted suicide in prison. He's currently being held for the savage beating and kidnapping of ex-girlfriend Christy Mack.
A shooting took place in Downtown Albuquerque, near Third and Silver, that left one person dead.
Guess those lapel cameras are good for something. APD police officer Jared Frazier's cam caught a woman trying to falsely accuse him of sexual assault after arresting her for a DWI.
It's not exactly BUSTED, but KOAT's got you covered if you wanna see photos of New Mexicans who've recently been arrested.
APS pays $175,000 to a middle school principal, settling a lawsuit over claims of retaliation by former superintendent Winston Brooks.
A giant butt-plug (oops, I mean tree) in Paris has French folks in a tizzy.
The New Mexico Public Education Department is grabbing the financial reins for a group of troubled Albuquerque charter schools.
It may rain this week. *fingers crossed*
The New Mexico State Fair is less than a week away. Eat something fried for me.
Azul Burrito Co., we barely knew ye.
UNM is "not substantially compliant" with the Clery Act, which requires schools to properly communicate and monitor campus safety issues.
"Breaking Bad" is the gift that keeps on giving.
Colonel Tom Miller asks for a take-back on previously submitted KAFB jet fuel spill data.
Today in cultural relativity, zoo animals in Albuquerque will probably get to eat horse meat. And that's not unusual.
Performance art ain't dead yet, and thank goodness (and folks like Emma Sulkowicz) for that.
A man pointed his finger at Santa Fe private school students and said “pew pew.” This didn’t go over well.
Albuquerque, as a whole, has been revealed to be a terrible driver. And Albuquerque, as a whole, gives a knowing laugh.
A UNM professor is looking into why APD’s lapel cameras are always switching off at key moments, which is really weird, and must be because of, I dunno, a chip or something? Or a wire? Yeah, that's it. Probably a wire.
Air France has suspended flights because of… bum bum bum… EBOLA. Let's all freak out.
And a 9-year-old girl fatally shot her instructor with an automatic Uzi during a practice session gone wrong.