Life In A Time Of Radiation And Celebration

Another week spent in Mordor. Another series of undignified pokes, pricks and probings. Another encounter with the harpoon dildo. And now I have been implanted with golden seed markers, acquired my first tattoos and radiation is imminent. I’m not gonna lie, I’m experiencing a great deal of trepidation over what comes next. Thank all the feral gods for edibles, Prince Valium and good scotch. If I’m not careful, I’m gonna end up like Neely O’Hara in Valley Of The Dolls. Except, in my case, it would be Valley Of The Irradiated Coot.

If I’m to be honest, however, I would have to say that my time visiting Scorch hasn’t been all bad. Tree uprooting microbursts aside, this trip has been a good one. I’ve spent quality time with with son, my in-laws and my woggies. They always make this journey worthwhile. We’ve taken in art, played tourist and eaten a lot of very fine foods together. It almost makes the gut goblin seem like a rewarding trade-off. Almost.

Then there’s that gawdawful drive. I think we’ve made this drive a few too many times in the past few months. We’ve come to regard certain roadside attractions as mile markers. Case in point, a snippet of conversation that could take place anywhere, but in this instance came from my husband’s mouth as we were approaching Deming:

The lawyer on that billboard looks like he’s waiting for his laxative to kick in. Oh, and look, there’s the pixilated dentist.

Yeah, we’ve done it a few too many times.

Oh, but it’s not all bad. There are some really cool things to see on this butt-numbing journey into the Abyss: Akela Flats, Fraggle Rock, Steins, The Thing? Alkali flats and permanent dust storm warnings; crumbling, but no less majestic, red rock monuments speckled liberally with tenacious deep green vegetation; purple smudged mountain ranges hemming in the horizon; acrobatically stacked boulders. Rooster Cogburn’s Ostrich Ranch, pecan groves, flowering yucca, ocotillo, mesquite and palm trees. It’s quite the spectrum.

Yes, it is.

In fact, the desert is gorgeous right now. The grass is lush and the mesquite green. Here and there a burst of color from swaths of late summer wildflowers catch the eye. Buzzards float in lazy spirals against impossibly blue skies, scattershot with shreds of cumulus clouds. Verga hangs on the horizon like a wet promise. The breeze through my stubble is cool and fragrant.

I really do love this part of the country. There is so much beauty etched into the ancient earth. For me, it will always be home. And, yeah, even the shitty highways, tacky telephone lines, pagoda-like electrical poles and the grammatically challenged billboards are welcome.

So, what makes the trip so special THIS time around? Probably the realization that on the 15th of this month (tomorrow!), I will be celebrating the tenth anniversary of my exodus from Mordor. Ten years. Hard to believe. The less whiny part of my journal entry from that date reads:

But tomorrow is another day. A new life in a new city. A chance to make a difference again, in a place that appreciates, nurture and even LOVES, its artists. It’ll be a nice change, to be sure.

It was and continues to be a nice change. The past ten years living in the Mesilla Valley have been all that and a bag of El Indio Tortilla Chips ladled liberally into Ol’ Gringo Salsa. I love Las Cruces. I love the mountains. I love the river (when it’s running). I love the clean air and I love the people.

Donny and me on my first weekend as resident of Las Cruces. His residency would come two months later.

For my part, I feel I have done my best to help enrich the arts scene. My time at the Rio Grande Theatre was magical. I’ve had successful art shows, organized outstanding concerts, was Artistic Director for one film festival and am now Chief Strategic Officer for another.

But the most exciting endeavor to date has been my work with the burgeoning film industry here. I’ve done my best to nurture young filmmakers and give them opportunities, as is my wont. We’re also within weeks of having a final cut of my latest film, Lady Belladonna’s Tales From The Inferno. The pursuit is ongoing and I couldn’t be more pleased.

Considering everything I’ve been through over the past few months – and this past weekend in particular (worthwhile bits aside) – I’m glad to have a home in a city that appreciates me. I’m very blessed in many ways, not the least of which is being surrounded by lovely people who are supportive and kind.

So, tomorrow we return from this, my latest series of tests and trials. Once again we make the long journey, but this time, it will be a celebratory trip. Ten years ago it was with hopes and dreams and maybe a little apprehension. This time, it’s with the comforting knowledge that I’m returning home and that I’ve done well in the ten years I’ve lived there.

Suck it, Mordor. Trepidation be damned. I’m ready for a drank, Neely-style!

Mmm… maybe not…

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