So, when last I updated, I was getting ready to head to New Mexico for a conference. I was a bit of a wreck before I left, because it was a work thing and I was sure I'd forget something important, like a computer cable or my plane ticket. Luckily, it went fine. I was picked up at the airport by one of the delegates to the Wilderness conference that was here in May, one-half of the couple that hosted me for the few days of the conference in their lovely adobe home somewhere in south Albuquerque.
The conference was a little dull, but still informative. I spent all day Wednesday and Thursday at the conference, learning about sensor networks and quality control and trying to look nice and sound professional. I'd eat dinner with the couple, who helped put the conference on, then go home and socialize with them in the evening. Then I spent one whole day after the conference in the LTER offices (Long Term Ecological Research), interviewing people about the specific data needs of our station, and the best ways to address them given the experience I have. That part went really well, and was definitely more valuable than the conference itself.
While it was a great networking opportunity, I had to be on my toes the whole time. So, it was nice on the evening of the last day when I got dropped off at Winnings (a coffee shop) and I was able to take a few deep breaths in comfortable solitude, then got picked up by my mother-in-law for a a trip to Los Alamos and a few days of relaxing and hanging with family.
I only had three days there, but it was really nice. I ate tons of green chile (and bought 8 containers to pack home to Idaho) and drove around town with Mike. I hung out with Jeni and played with the 1-and-a-half-year-old Taylor-niece, who's got all sorts of strong opinions about things now (one-word opinions, admittedly). I made a couple of flower fairies. I spent a day in Santa Fe with Mike, which was both fun and productive...we walked into a shop where the proprietor was crazy to get rid of the items on her sale table, and I walked out with four gorgeous Chinese parasols, totally free.
Somewhere along the trip, I started feeling better. I've had some sort of nameless lethargy and depression weighing on me for a while, but I think I've started feeling better. I think part of it was reading Eat, Pray, Love throughout the trip, which is probably the most (personally) important book I've read in the last few years, and definitely felt as though it was speaking directly to me. Part of it was probably just the safe environment, the long walks and car trips with Mike, and just having some fun in a no-stress environment. I think it can be a little hard to live in your workplace, so it was good to get away for a few days.
I didn't have any trouble getting the green chile on the plane (I took a small cooler as checked luggage), and nobody raised an eyebrow at the parasols sticking out of my backpack. We flew RIGHT over the Valle and Los Alamos on the way to the Denver hub, and I could even see Tyler's house. I got back to Boise and did some grocery shopping, and made it back to Taylor the next day, albeit late, due to an alarm clock accident. Sigh.
But it was a good trip. I had lunch with my friend Schulyer in Albuquerque (twice) and discovered the joys of Frontier. I got to go to a fantastic bookstore. I got to stock up on some of my favorite foods. I got to hang out with people I love and sleep late. I got to play "Heart-Shaped Box" on Guitar Hero and see the aspens starting to change color on Pajarito. It was good times.