Xaimi's Nerdy Blurbs: Albuquerque and Star Trek

Receive TWH blog updates via email

NGB's Sound Riff

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Albuquerque and Star Trek

November 8, 2017
Updated November 24,2017


I have a secret.

Star Trek and I have nurtured a budding friendship since childhood. Yours truly has a favorite arc (Generations), a least favorite arc (Deep Space Nine), a favorite Captain (two-way tie between Janeway and Picard), and an arc she still needs to engorge upon because the Great Michelle Yeoh is in it (Discovery). ThinkGeek has a Lieutenant bathing suit one-piece that my eye and mouse stay glued to, and I actually want to learn how to speak Klingon.

Outside of wondering if I have a problem, you probably want to know what the hell any of this has to do with Albuquerque? Some of you opened Google on another tab to find out who or what an "Albuquerque" is. Allow me to save you the trouble since I do not need you clicking away– this is our special time after all. Albuquerque is a city in the Southwestern state of New Mexico. No, I do not need a passport to live here. No, we did not have an earthquake here a couple months ago, although we do care about our Southern brothers and sisters.

Speaking of brothers and sisters, fellow Trekkies will find this next part familiar. After 25 years in various Maryland counties and the District of Columbia, I decided to jump ship.  "To seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where [I have] not gone before."  After a grueling 2-day trip via Greyhound with the shittiest customer service you can imagine– getting left in Tulsa and Oklahoma City by Greyhound drivers/staff,  and several extended layovers due to the previously mentioned account and a pest-ridden bus– I rolled along the Historic Route 66 (I-40), marveled as purple, fuschia, and orange marked the sunset behind the Sandia Mountains, and stepped into the Albuquerque air. I was four hours behind schedule, but I was ready to start fresh.

What to Expect

Transportation:

New Mexico is a breath of fresh air after spending years in the congested cities and suburbs back home. I can see the Sandia Mountains from...well...everywhere The range resembles a beautiful, natural fortress. I can imagine indigenous tribes centuries ago feeling protected by the massive pass. 

Albuquerque is in the dead center of the state with two major freeways intersecting it; I-40 runs West to East while I-25 runs North to South. This creates four quadrants with their own neighborhoods, vistas, and safety statistics.The ABQ Ride bus system can take you throughout all four quadrants for $2 a day. You can also purchase bus passes with various duration for relatively cheap. For example, a 1-month bus pass is $30. If I needed to get around for a month back home, the cheapest route would be a weekly universal bus pass for $17.50 per week. That's almost twice as much for a month here in ABQ. The city also boasts a RailRunner Tram with four stations that transport you from Santa Fe to Southern New Mexico. The Albuquerque Rapid Transit (ART) project is under construction, but  the locals are not too fond of the project; after spending a near month here and getting to know my neighbors, I understand why. More on that later.

Amenities, markets, restaurants, cafes, and pharmacies are walking distance depending on where you live. Mind you, my idea of walking distance is 2 miles one-way. This is not the average urbanite idea of walking distance and I am sure some of you gasped in terror at the thought of walking 2 miles for a coffee. I spent my first week here in Southeast near the airport. The only establishments within walking distance were a Waffle House (thank you Kat for the hospitality), Little Caesar's, three hotels, Fuddruckers, and one of the four recreational centers. My second lodgings are in Northwest near the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. Lowe's Hardware, Walgreens, Domino's Pizza, Blake's Lotaburger, the 2nd largest Starbucks in the Nation, McDonald's. and an Allsups gas station are the only places within a 3-block radius. You get my point; Albuquerque's bus service has plenty of room for improvement, but you can make use of it if you do not have a car. The city also has a large Uber presence, so you will not be stranded.

Retail, Food, and Pharmacy

Hop a bus or two toward Downtown Albuquerque, alight at Central Ave. , a.k.a. Historic Route 66, and those looking for a bit more retail life will feel at home in Nob Hill, a.k.a. the Student Ghetto. Walking East along Central introduces several shops, national restaurants-- like Chipotle and Einstein's Bros.Bagels-- and the University of New Mexico. The latter's campus is gigantic. I thought University of Maryland College Park had a big campus, but boy was I wrong. Central Avenue is also home to Astro Comics shop. The prices run high here, but this should not discourage you from stopping in to see their wares and chat. Their collection includes vinyl, apparel, and action figures in addition to our beloved comic issues/compendiums.
                    

I am a frugal person, so shopping is not a necessity for me, but if your blood runs green with materialism, Uptown ABQ covers three to four city blocks with retail giants, restaurants, and department stores big and small. This outdoor shopping district has a freestanding Trader Joe's and Dave & Buster's--something I have never beheld. For my gamer fanatics, no, D&B did not have Maximum Tune 5.

Walgreen's seems to hold the monopoly here for pharmacy and medium-sized grocers. I have only found two CVS/ Pharmacy locations: one free-standing near San Mateo and the other inside of the Target at Uptown. So, make sure you have the prescriptions forwarded and rewards cards that you need. I come from a place that had Rite Aid, Walgreens, and CVS within 8 miles of each other.

Supermarkets do not have a big presence here. Most people tend to their own farms or drive to Walmart Supercenter for groceries. Two local markets are Smith's and Albertson's, but you will be hard-pressed to find a Safeway, Giant, Giant Eagle, Food Lion, Shoppers--you get the idea.

Arts, Fun and Scenery

Holy hell in a cell this place is beautiful. While in Southeast, I had a night time view of the entire city. In the Northwest, I see the Sandia Mountains to the East and mesas to the West. Hot air balloons occasionally twinkle like colorful morning stars. The sunrise is preceded by hues of peach, tangerine, and pale blue as "...the light of all lights..." attempts to peek from behind the...peaks. If you have only lived in cities and suburbs, the trek to New Mexico will open your mind, but New Mexico itself will tickle and then overload your sensory receptors.

I have seen actual tumbleweeds ladies and gentlemen. Tumbleweeds that make Looney Tunes' representations of them seem like small brush. Lavender and various wild flowers are abundant.

My consort and I scared a coyote mid-poop while walking to the bus stop one early morning.

The natural wonders of this place take hold and never let go. If I thought Nature would ensnare my soul, the human artistry hidden in alleyways and the murals in plain sight exemplify the locals appreciation for art and artistic expression. Art is not a chic or trending item here. Art is an actual way of life.




Arts are not limited to traditional paper arts either--although there are a plethora of shops for it. The city has a large fighting art culture. Prominent gyms here include, but are in no way limited to: Jackson-Wink, Lutrell-Yee MMA & Fitness, FIT NHB Mixed Martial Arts, and several more. The city held a parade for UFC Former Women's Bantamweight Champion Holly Holm! Regardless of how you like to use your hands (or feet), Albuquerque has an art to match.

Diversity and Employment

For all of the cultures and ethnic groups in the DMV (D.C. Maryland Virginia) area, it has never felt diverse to me. You get the feeling that it is one culture against another culture and all of the wealth is not distributed equally between them. I guess the simple way to sum this up is a lie; diversity feels like a lie where I hail from.

Albuquerque's diversity is visibly different, but so is the distribution of wealth. African Americans  and Africans be prepared as there are not many of us here. If this is a problem for you, then I humbly ask that you consider what diversity means to you. Caucasian Americans, you are almost in the same boat. When I arrived, it was refreshing to see more Indigenous peoples here than any other ethnic group.

I do not know my full ancestral lineage and thus, cannot say if I stem from a Native American tribe, but I do not feel alone here. Everyone is struggling here whether White, Black, Brown, and every color in-between. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states the unemployment rate in Albuquerque is 6.3 percent as of July 2017. For those that do not put stock in statistics, consider my own experience: I have been unable to secure work here for over a month--not even labor gigs. The faces I see day-to-day are not corporate big shots trying to make top dollar; most are trying to make ends meet in a city without an economy.

Please do not take this as a slam on New Mexico. I am in love with what I have seen here and the people are laid back souls, but ignoring the cons of a thing does not make it perfect, it just makes us ignorant. When the locals twist a nickname from "the Land of Enchantment" to "the Land of Entrapment," that should tell you something is in the Koolaid.

"Where Do We Go from Here?"

Well put Jamiroquai. There are still experiences to taste, terrains to explore, and people to meet. I cannot say leave no stone unturned--stones replace most of the areas where you would expect grass except for parks-- but this land has much to offer for the soul-seekers among us. You may not leave with bags overflowing, but your spirit will feel renewed and your insight into the struggles within our Nation widened. 

Until Later Guys,

^_^

Want a few places to check out during your time here?

- Shifting Sands Dojo : Mike offers a relaxed community environment for kickboxing and ground      work
Shifting Sands Dojo Ad with Special Guest Balrog

- Little Bird de Papel : Vicki Bolen creates magical pieces for home and body via the Japanese traditional are of Origami. She tours throughout the US, but her shop is in Northwest Albuquerque.

- Astro-Comics: What more can I say that I did not say above? Get your keister over there!

- Masks y Mas : Learn more about the history and cultural significance of Dia de Los Muertos and find a memento to commemorate the experience.

-Off Broadway Costumes : Cosplayers and performers rejoice! Body paint, makeup, theatre props, accessories, and costumes are available for purchase or rent.

- Free Radicals : Across the street from Shifting Sands. It might look like a gas station, but it is actually a door into Punk, Gothic, and Tuk brand fashion. The owners are honest, open, and fun. Fans of Special Effects hair dye can actually find it here!

- Satellite Coffee: A wholesome, no frills or chemicals coffee shop on Central Avenue in Southeast ABQ. The decor is out of this world, they offer complimentary books, cds, and movies to keep you relaxed, and seasonal noms.

-Little Pear : An East Asian restaurant Downtown that specializes in Korean fare. Absolutely delicious. I highly suggest the owner's kimchi and potstickers.
I must make my way back to the Asian Pear