|||||Collide -- Chasing the Ghost||]|
This last weekend’s trip was pretty amusing. I went to
for the wedding of M and J. In full-on
mode, she’s actually the high school ex-girlfriend of my
little brother. That was fun to explain to people, when they asked
how I knew the couple. It was a good trip down memory lane, I had a
great time, and I think they’ll make a great team.
I’ve known M for about 13 years; since my little brother and
I shared a house when we were both attending
New Mexico State University,
I ended up seeing her and her friends a lot. She has always been on
the activist side of things, and her group of friends reflected
those interests. The living room was often an impromptu meeting
place for the high school’s local
chapter, and it seemed that a substantial portion of the Las Cruces
“Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual” community would end up
there as well. It was certainly never boring.
I also ended up meeting a fair bit of M’s family, especially
her next-youngest sister T. Who was, even at 14, extremely
attractive. (Hey, I was only 18 or so at the time, and she was tall
for her age. Stop looking at me like that. And stop humming that
Oingo Boing song.)
And it wasn’t my fault that M would come over,
disappear with my brother, and I’d be left to entertain T and
her friends, who were also exceedingly cute. Erf. What’s a
neurotic guy to do?
It was good to see T again, and I enjoyed seeing that, 10+ years
later, she is still a total hottie. Annoyingly enough, she had been
living in Ventura for the last two years, moving back to Albuquerque
only this last June or so; I have no designs on her (honest!), but
it still would have been fun to visit with her occasionally.
There were a few other people from her high school crowd there. It
was fun chatting with T, who spent the last 7 years in the U.S. Air
Force. He’s studying Biochemical Engineering at the
University of Arkansas, and is planning on going on to law school
(concentrating on IP law). C is living in San Francisco, dating a
girl in NYC, and looking to go to graduate school for a
Master’s in Philosophy (Meta-Ethics). When I asked her what
she was doing with her existing Bachelor’s degree in
Philosophy: “Oh, I’m still waiting tables. But now
I’m a professional.”
M was a weird case. I mostly knew him through my little brother,
but i also knew him directly at NMSU. (Heh. He also had a cute
younger sister. Lots of that going around, apparently...) He left
NMSU to work on video games, which he did for 6 years — I
remember one of his comments along the lines of: “I don’t have one
80k USD/year job; I have two 40k/year ones...” Needless to say, he
eventually burned out, spent a year or two in Europe, and is now
working on finishing his Bachelor’s degree in Electrical
I split my room with B, another old Las Cruces acquaintance. He
works for the
and his favorite phrase is “Safety Third”. I’ve never
had the guts to ask what were first and second, and I’ve never
looked at flying quite the same way ever again. He’s
usually lots of fun to hang out with; my only complaint is that he
can be a little too intense and focussed on having fun right
now, damnit! So seeing him once or twice a year is nearly
Friday night, B and I grabbed some food, then met up with my little
brother J (another J, sorry.) J and his friends were thinking about
going to a topless bar, but apparently El Paso has just passed a
“six-foot minimum distance” rule for such
establishments. M wanted to go down to Juarez, the Mexican border
town across the Rio Grande from El Paso. None of these options
really appealed to me, so when J decided to just hang out a bar or
two for a while, that worked for me. I offered to be designated
driver: since it was his ex-girlfriend who was getting married, he
needed to get drunk quite a bit more than I did.
We ended up back at
drinking beer and talking until
sunrise. Many people were introduced to the glories of
Home Star Runner,
especially the infamous
I’d almost forgotten how painful dial-up access can be. And the
barbarians at the hotel charge 0.50 per local call! Horrors!
Saturday, we got a fairly late start. Surprise. Some of my
brother’s friends wanted to go into Juarez during the day, to buy
some cheap tequila; others wandered off on various errands. I
spent a bit of time meeting the groom’s friends, many of whom are
computer geeks to various extents. I brought along a bag of games,
which never got played, but we talked about them a fair bit. We
also geeked out about preferred operating systems, first computer in
the home, and similar dinosaur stories.
They had to go get suited up for photos by 16:00, so I wandered
around on my own for a while. Maybe I was just looking in the wrong
spots, but it was really hard to find an ATM and/or decent liquor
store in the downtown area there. Irksome.
Seeing J (the groom) and J (my brother) standing next to each other
was a bizarre sight. My brother is 6'5" (or about 196 cm), and I’m
used to him being the tallest person around me (6'3", 192 cm). The
groom is at least 6'8" (203 cm); panning from my brother’s face to
J’s face and having to crane my head up was really weird.
The ceremony itself was at 18:00, in a neat facility just off the
plaza in downtown El Paso. The wedding party was a perfect
reflection of the genial insanity that M has always attracted: there
were men and women on both sides of the party, and some of the women
were wearing tuxedos. (As I pointed out to her later, all she
needed was a guy to show up in a dress, and she’d have all four
They held the reception in the same building; it was fairly
standard, although the food was exceptionally varied and tasty. The
crowd had a non-trivial number of vegetarians, as well as people
coming in from both very modern, cutting-edge cuisines as well as
more traditional backgrounds). I juggled occasionally, to distract
some of the children there; first a toddler girl who was the flower
girl and was getting a bit cranky, then a pair of 4-5 year olds.
This would come back to haunt me...
There was also a very intriguing shooter distribution method
(left), cut into an ice sculpture of sorts. Some yummy
stuff was coming out the bottom of that ziggurat. I helped shut
down the party, along with a few other like-minded folk
(right). There were the usual big pile of gifts and cards
that needed to be transported back to the hotel, and as I told the
bride: “Us men may not be good for much, but we can lift heavy
things.” A few minutes later, I gave my first gift to the
couple, by giving the bride a much-needed foot massage. :)
Later that night, I was hanging out with my brother and his
cronies. Some of M’s old HS friends had come back at the end of the
reception, and when they went out for a quick smoke, they ran into
M’s little sister T and the other (male) M. The four of them
decided they wanted to go to Villiage Inn, then over to M & J’s
house to crash. After a fair chunk more drinking and watching of
bad hotel TV, my brother and some of his friends decided
they wanted to go to VI as well. Which left me alone for
another few hours, drinking a few more beers, and geeking out.
Sunday morning was a rush to get up, showered, packed, checked out,
and to the brunch on time. Everyone was a bit more relaxed than
after the ceremony, and it was nice to talk with some new
acquaintances a bit more.
This is also when my juggling came back to haunt me. In the middle
of brunch, one of the little girls (cousins of the bride, as it
turns out) wanders up to my table, gives me a quick hug, and proudly
announces in a loud voice: “He let me play with his balls last
night!” ... ... ... I guess I simply never saw the really
dangerous side of being a juggler.
After brunch, B and I helped M & J haul their presents down to their
cars, and drove ourselves and C over to their house. A bit of
hanging out (and a few minutes of me arguing with their wireless
network) later, they were ready to head off to Cloudcroft, NM, for
their honeymoon, and B, C, and I were off to the airport.
Originally, we were just going to drop C off so she could pick up a
car, but B wanted to get driving back home, so I just took the extra
time at the airport.
While waiting there, I ran into T again, and we had another good
conversation while he was waiting for his plane. He’s made an
amazing transformation; when I last talked to him, he was still a
bit reticent, and maybe even shy. These days, he’s completely
gregarious, and was talking up the whole room. He had some great
stories and good insights from his time in the service; I’m sure
he’s tearing that campus apart.
The best man was also there, waiting for the earlier flight to San
Diego (although he was flying through to Northern California). We
had a good talk about computers, startups, and career paths. It was
a little strained, as he’s a bit reserved, and I’m not that good of
a conversationalist, but it was still enjoyable.
I also saw the little girl (yes, the one that embarassed me at
brunch) and her mom go by. I got lucky — she didn’t see me.
Other than being rather cramped (there's a reason we call Southwest
Airlines the “cattle car air”), the trip home was
uneventful. I spent most of the flight with my
on, but my neighbors were still amusing. One guy sat down, bitched
and moaned, then talked about how he hated people, and how they
always did things that pissed him off. I looked over, and said,
“Well, I’m as misanthropic as the next guy, but if I
start doing something that bugs you, let me know, ok?” He
laughed for a while at that...