November 13 & 14
I woke up super early on Monday morning feeling fine. So I HITCHED UP THE CAMPER BY MYSELF like it was nothing (have I mentioned that I backed into that Santa Fe campsite by myself with no problems whatsoever save for the very small, inconsequential detail that I was aiming for Site 30 and ended up in Site 29?) and drove several beautiful empty empty hours to Roswell, New Mexico, or, rather, Bottomless Lakes State Park, which is about 12 miles outside Roswell. When I got here I proceeded to turn my nose up at a pull through campsite and instead BACK INTO MY CHOSEN CAMPSITE like a boss. And it’s a damn good campsite because not only does it have excellent wifi, just about 15 feet behind it is a completely creepy corpse. I don’t know what it is, or rather, was*, besides unsettling, but hey! Isn’t it cool? Super cool right up until you have to go to the bathhouse at night in the deep deep darkness – it is dark as FUCK out here – and you wonder if. . . if. . .
Anyway, other than the bodies, it is pretty here although the lakes do not appear bottomless to me at all but rather somewhat shallow. Still! That is because I am a decadent daughter of the effete (and water rich) east! No doubt I am looking at them wrong.
On Tuesday, though, I woke up to the return of my mystery cold/virus. I wish this thing would proverbially shit or get off the pot: as it is I don’t really feel well enough to completely enjoy myself but neither do I feel horrible enough to stay in bed. So I took my vitamins and headed off to downtown Roswell. Roswell, it turns out, is a city, not a town, and it, um, stinks. No, I mean it smells bad. It smells like manure. Manure is a fine and healthy smell, I’m sure, redolent of growing things and agriculture and animals and the earth and so on and so forth but a lot of it goes rather a long way. Everything in Roswell, not to put too fine a point on it, smells like shit. Still! Onwards! I came here to go to the UFO museum and BY GOD I was going to the UFO museum, smell or no smell.
The UFO museum is mostly newspaper clippings. There are a few alien replicas – they didn’t have any actual aliens and yet they have the nerve to charge $5 admission, I mean, really – and a video, which I didn’t watch, and a somewhat appalling giant wood relief purporting to be a copy of a Mayan relief beloved by Erich von Daniken, but mostly it’s newspaper clippings. Oh and there are also a lot of mounted typed Testimonies by local people who were threatened by the military in 1947 or saw three corpses under a blanket which weren’t human or held some material that was nothing like metal and yet was. Frankly, it was kinda dull. I took a bunch of film pictures and wandered to and fro and spent too much money in the gift shop, but, bah. Then I went outside and started to wander around what I think passes for downtown Roswell, but I got too depressed, what with the manure and the virus and the barely surviving alien souvenir shops and the Kwik Loan stores and so on, to continue. Roswell is not beautiful. Roswell is very American, in that there seems to be a lot of sprawl and endless brick subdivisions and trailer parks. Roswell may very well be a great place to live but, well, it is not, perhaps, the place to come directly after Santa Fe.
This is what I think about aliens. I believed in them utterly until about five years ago when it was brought home to me that it was a bit strange they had all vanished at exactly the same time as everyone on earth began carrying a powerful camera on their persons at all times. I didn’t notice this all by myself, the internet pointed it out and, well, I just couldn’t argue. I still can’t argue. Now, Bigfoot, people are still taking pictures of Bigfoot, so I feel confident still believing in Bigfoot, but space aliens who hang around buzzing Earth? Not so much. I feel bad. I want to believe. I do believe there must be aliens – I refuse to believe that humans are in any way unique, good god, please no – but I don’t think they come visiting much. Maybe they just haven’t had any vacation time since the 70s.
I then headed onwards to the Anderson Contemporary Art Museum and honestly I did not have high hopes. They sank even lower when I saw the building, which is, like, an extremely underwhelming corrugated metal warehouse looking structure. Oh well, I thought, and went in and LO it turns out that Roswell, which I was in the process of dismissing, has a THRIVING and VIBRANT contemporary arts scene. There is apparently a Roswell residency for contemporary artists that has been going on for decades now and the artists all give the museum a piece. There was some incredible art in that innocuous roadside building! It was amazing! I was humbled and impressed and I would apply for this residency – nothing to do for a year but make art? Kind of like I’m doing now but FREE? HELL YEAH – except I do not have the chops. I mean, ALISON SAAR had it. This was some damn good art by artists I am mostly unfamiliar with ** but I intend to fill those gaps in posthaste. And so, if you ever find yourself in Roswell, skip the aliens and check out the art.
Which come to think of it is not bad advice for life.
* It was about the size of a cat, but the teeth, which were clearly and horrifyingly still intact, were not at all a cat’s teeth. I think it was a prairie dog maybe. Or maybe a coyote pup. Or, it could have definitely been an alien. I didn’t get THAT close.
** I discovered something about myself in that museum, too, which is that I gravitated towards art from the mid to late 80s and early 90s – the time period in which I myself was an art student or a practicing artist who was convinced she was going to Make It Big someday. That kind of surprised me and also made me chuckle ruefully in the way we middle aged people are so prone to, right before we kill again.