Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Final Countdown

Hooray!  We have been given a deadline for Gallup.  OK, so not really a deadline, more of a moving target some time in May.  It is definitely a complicated timeframe.  Emrys finishes school in late May and we need to be in Virginia in early June for a graduation/family reunion of sorts and  Eric will most likely have follow on work in New Hampshire for a few weeks which leaves the kids and I to our own devices.

Times like these remind me of how much we are loved and how very lucky we are to have our family.  They are so flexible and understanding, they completely amaze me.  I send this: “There is a very real possibility we are out of Gallup mid-May.  Any chance you’d like visitors until we go to VA?”  And I get a warm and welcome reply.  Family rocks!

Now my anal/OCD planning nature kicks in.  It gives me a sense of control in a situation that is otherwise way beyond my control.  I had our first day all planned and then it hit me…hey genius, what about Ethel?  Needless to say, I am rebooting our driving to Texas plans.  Since the kids are young, we can really only go about three hours before stopping.  Unfortunately there isn’t a whole lot between Albuquerque and Amarillo and, once I got my head out of my butt, there is even less that is dog friendly.  Right now it is looking like lots of fast food and parks, and maybe a quick visit inside Mesalands Community College’s Dinosaur Museum.

Since I have made plans, things will surely change.  For now at least it looks like two days to Texas, visit with family, head to Virginia for a few days, then back to Wisconsin with the folks for a few weeks while Eric does his follow on.  Hopefully after that we can settle in Illinois for a bit.  

I cannot really say that I am sad to leave Gallup.  For a town that was once named “The Most Patriotic Small Town in America” that luster seems to have faded.  The parks and roads are littered with trash, people don’t say “hello” or “good morning” or even nod when you speak to them.  I know a huge percentage of the community receives public assistance, and given that Gallup sees the convergence of three Native American nations (the Navajo, Zuni, and Pueblo I believe) there is a long history that comes into play. Poverty, alcoholism, unemployment, and crime (which all seem to travel together) are rampant, and what could be a beautiful place is instead randomly dotted with excess.  This is only further exemplified by the careless mediocrity and abject poverty that surround it.  Someone suggested cultural PTSD is partly to blame.  I am not sure how I feel about that, the truth of it, whether it can exist for generations.  I did see something the other day, which is probably easier said then done, but I think applies here 

Healing doesn’t mean the damage never existed. 
It means the damage no longer controls your life.

Is it all bad?  No, there are some nice places and a few friendly people, but this is not the kind of place where I would invite family and friends to come visit and it isn’t going to make it on to our list of places to settle down.  

I cannot wait to go...Sayonara and Arrivederci!

Monday, March 23, 2015

The (not so spectacular) now: Gallup, New Mexico

What can I say about Gallup…give me a minute.

Well, it is certainly not the worst place we have ever lived.  Scenery wise, it has some very beautiful views.  Family activity wise, it is rather lacking, but more so due to its isolation from other cities. I feel like we do the same things over and over again. 

We do enjoy the aquatic center, though their strict 2-1 ratio means we are usually the only people there.  While I understand their explanation (apparently cars would pull up and drop off loads of kids and then leave), this rule eliminates all but one of the families we know here.  It is almost surreal to be alone in such a big place.  There is also zero consistency among the staff, which is crazy because I think ten people work there.  Sometimes we have to wear bracelets, sometimes we do not.  Sometimes we are allowed to use our own soap, other times they insist we take one of their bars.  Sometimes we can use the pool noodles, other times I am told they are just for the lap swimmers.    

The children’s library also has several programs throughout the week, but Emrys and Easton only enjoy the Thursday afternoon craft and the occasional Saturday party.  The library has a huge collection of books and even has a large DVD collection ($1 for a week!) and we like having new material for bed time.  My only issue is the parking lot next door.  There is a very small playground and some benches, and while the police do a great job of patrolling this area I have encountered several intoxicated people trying to sell me various trinkets and goods.  Unfortunately this is all too common here.   

Our other weekly outing is to one of the city parks. We really enjoy Mossman park, which is very small, but has both a big kid and little kid area in very close proximity to one another.  There are a few benches and two covered tables which make taking snacks or lunch super easy.  On the downside, it tends to be a bit dirty.  There are lots of wild dogs in Gallup, and several  of them seem to enjoy pooping at the park. 

That is it, that is what we do here, well, those things and Emrys goes to an awesome preschool.   It has gotten old fast and I am looking forward to our next destination and crossing my fingers that we do not come back.  We have made some good friends, but none of them are here permanently.  While I believe you get out what you put in, I find that most people here are not very friendly.  People ignore me when I say “Hello” even though I am smiling and making eye contact.   My pep and outgoingness is beginning to tap out.