Full of Hot Air

Hey there folks,

One of the many exciting things about Albuquerque apart from the high murder rate and unsolicited slaughter of bums is the world-renowned

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta!

And having been a lifelong New Mexico citizen, it was high time I attended such a festival. And I must say, reader, it has its charm, but it isn’t something I’m keen on attending in the future.

Armed with the foreknowledge of my brother and his charming wife, the family set out to finally attend one of New Mexico’s greatest attractions.

That wasn’t even a third of ’em

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On the Road

Hey there folks,

I started (re)reading On the Road by the infamous beatnik, Jack Kerouac, once again, and I must say – it’s even better a second time around.

Perhaps it’s because I’ve accomplished two Caminos and many travels since I first read it years ago. Or perhaps in my current state of longing for the road it speaks louder to me these days.

More so because it’s a timeless American classic. And, yes, I will fight you if you believe otherwise.

Moving on – it’s a brilliant book and one I think every person capable of reading needs to have a go at. Caused quite a stir when it was first published, what, with all the sex, drugs, and disregard for societal expectations. Young men should be getting jobs and raising families, not chasing their head-in-the-cloud dreams!

And how doth the latter speak to me.

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Penultimate Pain; Ultimate Life

Hey there folks,

A year ago to the day, my grandfather passed away in the quiet of his adopted home in Virginia.

One time he cut his finger open, so he dipped it in schnapps to “prevent infection.”

Having left the devastation of post-WWII Europe, he settled in the United States where he spent his days as a salt-of-the-earth farmer, siring a large family in the process. Every time we attended Lutheran services with him and Grandma, the two of them would beam with pride as we took up our own pew. Lutherans: always sticking it to the Catholics, right?

Ever proud of his new home, but never keen on forgetting his roots, he instilled in us the nationalistic and cultural pride of both Switzerland and America. Been confused ever since: am I Swiss American or American Swiss?

Tough old man, that’s for certain: stubborn (like all Swiss men), punctual, dedicated, and unrelenting. The kind of role model kids need these days. And now he’s farmin’ with Jesus.

His passing, though expected, was still quite the shock for the family. First death in the States for the Ruch clan – how do we deal with the inevitable?

I’ve never been very good with expressing emotions – apart from writing them down – and penned a short piece following the funeral. Dreadful things, those – all the black clothing, tears, and somber attitudes. You would think I would be more at home in an element like that.

But no. How I detest laying the dead to rest.

He taught me many things in my youth – some brilliant, some good, and some casually racist and a bit outdated – but he was always an inspiration. The kind of guy you want to make proud and see that wrinkly smile of his light up across his face. And his final act was to teach me about Life through pain.

July 4th, years and years ago. Drinking beer and smoking cigars with the proudest immigrant to the States.

I wouldn’t say I penned this in his honor (indeed, far too much profanity), but after the services, I felt compelled to write exactly what went on in my mind during those moments. A year later and this piece still rings true.

Thanks for the lessons, Grandpa. Swiss dominance.

Continue reading “Penultimate Pain; Ultimate Life”

No Time To Talk; Just Get In!

Hey there folks,

Forgive the sparse updates. On my latest sojourn to the fabled County of Lea, I picked up whatever ailment was afflicting my brother.

And a job offer to begin teaching high school English immediately.

But that’s besides the point – I was quite ill for a day and feeling downright crappy for a few more. Now that this episode has passed, it’s time to write.

And as we all know, my best writing comes under duress.


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Wandering and Writing

Hey there folks,

There’s nothing quite like blazing through a busy street, blaring Finnish metal and trying your best to sing along, the plumes of smoke billowing forth from your open window shrouding your ignoble advance into Destiny.

There, upon the horizon, quartz-capped mountains lay in the distance, beckoning you to master them. One day, Sandias, one day I shall conquer you all.

Little moments like these are when I feel most alive.

If you’re in the mood for reflections upon wandering, writing, and everything in between, by all means, dear reader, progress! For I’ve got news!

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Not Your Typical American

Hey there folks,

Foremost I would like to thank Michael and Kathryn from the Heart, Mind & Soul Project for hosting me at lunch today here in sunny Albuquerque. These two wonderful people were passing through my beloved New Mexico – of course we had to meet as fellow writers and volunteers are wont to do! Good conversation and better company is always on the menu.

That having been said, I have about a dozen drafts flitting about the place this moment – nothing is really worthy of being published I’m afraid.

That’s what happens when you are your biggest critic. Writers, amirite?

Whilst enjoying victuals this afternoon, Michael, Kathryn, and I swapped Camino stories – the two are quite well-traveled (the best kind of company) – and I was asked about my first Camino back in 2014. Rather than relate the conversation verbatim here, might I instead, dear reader, have you enjoy the following piece I penned shortly after Camino Primaris?

I’m not certain if I wrote the following for a contest or just because, but, all the same, enjoy it, eh?

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Change We Can Believe In

Hey there folks,

No doubt many of you are wondering – my long-time friends, family, and my newer readers – what in blazes I’m getting myself into these days. Forgive the radio silence, family and friends, trying to contact me or waiting for a call. To borrow an iconic line from President Obama, “Aaaaah, let me be clear! (hand waves about needlessly) Change is good!”

Fret not; this post has nothing to do with politics.

No, this post is a recap of my past month; a retelling of the shenanigans and string pulling your erstwhile Monkey has been getting himself into. Machinations, ahoy!

Continue reading “Change We Can Believe In”