Day 2 in Albuquerque – National Almond Day

What a day!

I didn’t run this morning.  I needed to be at the conference at 8:00 and had been told, now by several sources, that it’s not so safe to be out alone, especially in the morning and in the evening.  I don’t usually feel unsafe when I travel but I have noticed a great deal of cracked out people on the streets.  It is terribly sad, I don’t feel threatened by them but I understand that they are not in their right state of mind and it’s better to avoid a potentially ugly situation.  I won’t die if I don’t run today.

It was 30˚ F when I left the house and I walked swiftly to keep warm.  At an intersection, when the light turned for pedestrians, I began to cross the street.  A man in an SUV kept moving into the crosswalk, a guy behind me started screaming at the car, about ready to punch the hood of the car.  “STOP YOUR *&#$%^* CAR, !@@HOLE!” I jumped and put my hand to my chest, “you scared me,” I said, turning around to him.  He apologized profusely and speed walked away.  I thought about it for a second.  Anger is a reaction to fear.  This guy felt scared that the car was going to hit him and he reacted angrily.  Is that natural?  Have those who react in calmness when faced with fear trained themselves to do so?

I walked on.

The conference organizers were hosting a breakfast for all of the undergraduate and graduate student participants and so I went.  I made myself a plate for breakfast, fresh fruit and some eggs, grabbed a cup of coffee and joined a table of people.  I felt incredibly out of place.  I don’t even follow pop culture, what am I doing at a popular culture conference I thought ironically?  After talking for a little bit I felt much better but recognized the fact that I am a loner.  I love my people but big group settings are not my cup of tea.

I heard somewhere that today is National Almond Day so after some cursory research, I learned that the Swiss Alps Bakery in Albuquerque has incredible almond horns and rum balls, a field trip was in order.  I politely excused myself from breakfast, wishing everybody luck on their upcoming presentations and ordered an uber to the other side of town where I would get to celebrate this National Holiday.

My uber driver was an interesting cat, young guy, college age.  He was rather chatty but everything he said was valid and thoughtful.  He talked about the state’s budgetary issues, the current construction project on Central–which everybody I have met in this town has complained about, about the low education quality in the state–including the fact that the state is now undertaking this huge construction project but cutting an already dismal education budget.  He was very insightful and gave me recommendations for a running trail for the weekend.  I wished him luck when we got to our destination and hopped out of the car.

The Swiss Alps bakery is charming.  Loaves of bread lined the slanted wooden shelves behind the counter, it smelled of coffee and baked goods, and the pastry shelf magnificently displayed bear claws, apple turnovers, brownies, and a plethora of other goodies.  I couldn’t decide on what almond treat I would have to celebrate National Almond Day, so I ordered them all–the almond horn, the marzipan apricot cookie, and the chocolate rum ball (which doesn’t have almond in it but is one of my favorite things ever).

Chocolate rum ball hiding behind the apricot, marzipan cookie and the monstrous almond horn. And an americano 🙂

I will say, the almond horns at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s (when you can find them) are better than this one but the center was generously filled with marzipan and that is always welcome in my life.  The marzipan apricot cookie was delicious although a bit sugary for my taste, the americano helped cut the sweetness.  I saved the rum ball for an afternoon snack.  I sat at the cafe and worked all morning until it was time to head to lunch.

I called an uber, the driver was incredibly laid back and we chatted until I arrived to my destination, Le Troquet for lunch…again!  As I approached the full glass door, Sherry spotted me and started violently waving.  I opened the door and she called, “HI AGAIN, SALLY!!”

“Hi, Sherry!” I called back.

She gave me a big, strong hug and I found my seat back at the same table I sat yesterday.  I again ordered a split of prosecco, and today a niçoise salad.

Lunch today, niçoise salad and a split of prosecco

I enjoyed my lunch slowly over conversation with Sherry as she worked and by eavesdropping on the charming old ladies sitting to my right.

The afternoon session was fascinating.  I love listening to passionate people talk about their life’s work.  I listening to one girl, a master’s student in English literature wax poetic about her research on food in literature.  It was fantastic!

Afterwards, I needed to prepare for my presentation so I went out for a walk to find a cafe.  I stumbled upon a chalk-sandwich board advertising 3-6 happy hour.  Looks like I found my office.  I parked it at the bar, sampled a few beers and finally settled on the marble red.  I made friends with Robby, the bartender.  He could tell that I was stressed out–I don’t really care for public speaking, nor do I care for Albuquerque–and bless his 22-year old, non-drinking heart, he listened to me go on and on about my woes and my life.

Next I ordered the java stout, delicious!  I had it alongside my chocolate rum ball.

Java stout with a chocolate rum ball from this morning’s visit to the Swiss Alps Bakery

When I went to pay for my bill I learned he had picked up my tab.  I just about cried.  I gave him a tip and went on my way, I was going to be presenting next!

I hate public speaking but I think it went well! I got several questions after my presentation and one woman even wanted me to send her my paper.  Rather boring in my opinion but sure!

After all the day’s sessions were over, I was drawn to the bar by the piano music.  The older pianist with the dyed-black moustache winked at me as I walked in and my face lit up.  I love people who appreciate the details in life.  I enjoyed his music over a gin and tonic until it was time for the conference’s evening reception.

I found my way upstairs to the grand pavilion, where there was to be held “an event.”  A Native American tribe was called in for a performance.  While it was lovely, I found it tacky that all these white people had their iPhones out to film a “traditional, tribal dance” in the huge ballroom of the Hyatt Regency.  It didn’t feel too natural.  Anyways.  The gentleman MCing the event (papa of the family) introduced each song/dance.  He said something that I really appreciated, he said, humans often struggle with saying the following four phrases: “I love you,” “I’m sorry,” “Forgive me,” and “Thank you.”  Wow.  He highlighted four phrases that humanity struggles with.  I find amazing things come in fours.  Anyhow, he encouraged us to say them often.  I urge for you to.

As fate would have it, a gentleman sat next to me who worked with a colleague of mine from NPS.  We chatted and he was tickled that I knew his buddy.  He offered me a ride home and insisted I take his phone number in case I needed anything while I was in town.  He even offered to take me to the airport, as needed, when I left town.  I am so thankful for the universe.

Good night.

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