Thursday, July 21, 2011

In the beginning, there was the word: "Hey!"

By S. Derrickson Moore
LAS CRUCES — When did “hey” become the casual greeting of choice? Gradually, it’s been replacing “hello,” “good morning,” “bye” and even “hi.”
When you’ve already greeted someone for the day at the office, for instance, it doesn’t seem appropriate to say “Hi” when you see him or her a few minutes later in the break room, at the water cooler, or strolling off to another meeting. But “hey” always seems okay.
It’s casual, friendly in a noncommittal mode ... a neutral way of acknowledging the presence of another creature in your environment.
It can be the equivalent of a poke on Facebook, when you don’t have the time, energy or inclination for any kind of real communication.
Maybe we need an online “hey” option: something between “poke” and “like,” for people who aren’t willing or ready to commit to liking but feel a little too strongly to leave it at a poke.
Of course, “hey” can offer a lot of room for emotional expansion and self-expression, and it’s all right there in the official Merriam-Webster/ definition for hey: “Used to attract attention, to express surprise, interest, or annoyance, or to elicit agreement.”
Depending on your inflection, “hey” could be a protest, an expression of approval, excitement, even coy seduction.
Of course, without the real-time, face-time, or even the voice inflections or facial expressions in a Skype or phone call, you’ll need some help to get your real message across via e-mail, text or tweet.
If you aren’t into emoticons, you can experiment with punctuation.
Try the alarmed or enthusiastic “Hey!”
Take it to the next level with “Hey!!” Or get extreme with “HEY!!!!!!”
Retreat to shy befuzzlement with “Hey?” Or the even more timid “hey....?”
Go old school with a retro variation on the Fonz’s cool, self-confident, or even flirtatious, “Heeeyyyyy!”
Say “hey” with music: “Hey, Jude,” “Hey, hey, hey” advice to “Mrs. Robinson,” “Hey, Good Lookin’,” “Hey, Soul Sister” or “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye.”
Of course, some prefer the safety of taking refuge in the neutral DMZ of hey.
But others of us will always be seekers, working to discover where hey came from, probing why hey is here and wondering if it can boldly go where no hey has gone before.
C’mon. Let’s go on a “hey” ride.
Explore international variations. When in Canada, substitute “Eh?”
Legendary Sioux warrior Crazy Horse famously issued the war cry, “Hoka Hey,” which is variously translated by as “clear the path,” or “to live life in such as way that one has done all that one should upon one’s last day, so it is indeed a good day to die.”
Do some online research at cool sites like, where you’ll discover hey is the word for a Hebrew letter meaning “behold, look, breath and sigh.” The site even has some graphics (much cooler than emoticons, by the way) showing the evolution of the symbol for the letter hey, which started, in ancient times, with a little stick figure guy with both arms raised. Some mystic traditions have it that “Hey” represents the divine breath, revelation, ancient humanity’s greeting for God, or the word for the God principal itself. Or, given the divine breath concept, maybe it was God’s word in the beginning: a divine greeting and acknowledgment to creation itself.
Maybe it all started with a “hey,” not a big bang.
Hey, it’s something to think about, eh?

S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at; (575) 541-5450. To share comments, go to and click on Blogzone and Las Cruces Style.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Plaza spirit nurtures friendships

LAS CRUCES and MESILLA — Maybe it comes with finally finding your querencia, that wonderful word that represents, to me, more than just a special place: it’s a kind of soulmate relationship between a person and the spot that feels like home.
After visiting and living in a lot of places around the planet, I’ve realized that there are cities, towns and villages that can become good friends, and I feel lucky to have found two amigos of a lifetime right here in querencia territory.
Two of my best buds are Las Cruces and Mesilla. Like all BFFs, they have hearts of gold — in this case, Mesilla Plaza and the Downtown Mall.
And like other loved ones, I miss them if we don’t keep in touch, I realized one recent Wednesday when I drove over to the Las Cruces Farmers & Crafts Market. The corazon of LC and I used to get together pretty much every week when it was a block’s walk from the Sun-News building. Our post-fire interim headquarters at 715 E. Idaho Ave. isn’t really that far away, but there’s still that little heartache of separation you feel when you, or a loved one, moves out of the 'hood.
Meandering through Mesilla last Friday, it struck me again that weekends and market days are particularly good times to have heart-to-hearts with my amigos.
And here the heart analogy stretches, because the hearts of my best city friends are densely populated with the human friends I always seem to encounter there. Old friends. New friends. Friends-in-development. Friends I’d like to know better. Even, rewarding experience has taught me, as-yet-unmet potential friends.
There’s something about New Mexico plazas that makes them unlike any other place on Earth, not even the European plazas that inspired them.
There is a mixture of native Pueblo style and profoundly bonded community, a touch of Wild West adventure, high-desert hospitality and a spirit of All-American melting pot democratic camaraderie.
I noticed it decades ago on my first visit to New Mexico, when I first discovered the plazas of old town Albuquerque and downtown Carlsbad.
The same spirit pervades the corazons of tiny Tularosa, artistic Taos and even otherwise-sometimes-snooty Santa Fe.
Locals — and quickly-acclimated tourists and visitors — make eye contact, smile and greet strangers. Maybe we paid our dues with those legendary high noon shoot-outs long ago. Now, casual acquaintances and even those in awkward or hostile relationships tend to greet one another as friends, at least for the space of an encounter in a plaza DMZ.
That spirit holds whether you’re dancing through a full-tilt fiesta or enjoying a solitary solo amble through an almost-deserted plaza at dawn or dusk.
Plaza spirit makes us sensitive; even psychic. We’ll generally acknowledge one another with a cordial nod or wave, and maybe stop you for a friendly chat, if the mood is right. But we’ll also sense it if you’re savoring alone time, and let you walk on, undisturbed.
For most of us, (those of us who don’t have to plant, clean, decorate and renovate them — and mil gracias, you all, for tending our corazons) plazas are low maintenance, loyal and rewarding. And so, it seems to me, are the friendships we form and nurture there.
It's easy, on a Farmers Market Saturday morning or a Mesilla Plaza Sunday afternoon, to meet, greet and catch up with dozens of friends, share a bit of news, a sympathetic hug, a congratulatory pat on the back, a beso, a handshake … and then stroll on, all in the space of a few moments. Or discover a long-lost amigo and join forces for an impromptu drink or meal that turns into a reunion that lasts for hours.
You can continue an ongoing conversation, mend a misunderstanding, share a dance, make a plan, start a life-changing collaboration or —¿quien sabe? — maybe even fall in love.
Miracles big and small … anything and everything seems possible in the milagro spirit of a New Mexico plaza, which waxes strong from sultry summers to frosty piƱon-scented winters, especially in my querencia favorites: Mesilla and Las Cruces.

S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at; (575) 541-5450. To share comments, go to and click on Blogzone and Las Cruces Style.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Waiting to sing in the rain...

By S. Derrickson Moore
LAS CRUCES — I’ve been looking into fun things to do in the summertime for all ages and I’ve been wondering if good times are really all that different for different generations in different climates.
From my earliest Michigan toddler memories to a high school summer in Europe as an exchange student near the north Atlantic coast, it seems that most of my most vivid summer memories involve bodies of water.
First steps into Lake Michigan. Building sandcastles with my mom and dad. Camping on rivers and lakes.
There were canoe trips with my maternal grandfather on the AuSable River, and never-quite-long-enough summer weeks spent with my cousins at my grandparents’ cabin, at the heart of what was once their resort on Lake Margrethe in Michigan.
But there was no way we were roughing it. Grandma served us gourmet goodies with her china, silver and good crystal at hand. It was a log cabin, but a log cabin with a living room big enough for mom’s baby grand piano, which we happily noodled around when we weren’t sailing, swimming, canoeing, waterskiing, fishing and hiking.
And sunbathing. There was lots of that in the days before mandatory SPF basting. Summer wasn’t really summer until you’d gotten your first sunburn, soothed with a menthol haze of Noxema from grandma’s elegant dressing table.
At home or on vacation, when you grow up in Michigan, it all happens around the water. First kisses at lakeside dances. Flirting with cute guys at high noon, and, if things worked out, long walks on moonlit shores, cuddling on blankets and beach towels with our amigos by driftwood bonfires, or sneaking off for a little more privacy in dunes nearly as bright as White Sands’ crystalline hills.
Parents seemed as drawn to the water as the kids. Before we acquired our own riverside land, my folks would gather all three kids and set up camp on the shores of Lake Michigan for a few weeks each summer. We pitched a tent and slept in sleeping bags on bales of hay.
Our parents made occasional runs to our house for clothes and groceries. Dad commuted to work during the week. Each evening he came “home,” pitched his suitcoat over a tent post, changed into his bathing trunks and joined us for a dip in Lake Michigan before he and mom threw dinner on the grill.
Judging from the crowds at the Rio Grande River races, at Elephant Butte and local swimming pools, I’m guessing that kids everywhere have the same return-to-the-water summertime instincts, even in high desert country — and especially in hot, fiery drought years like this.
It’s not surprising that “Singin’ in the Rain,” one of the world’s greatest love songs to water, was composed by a guy from our territory, Nacio Herb Brown, who was born in Deming.
The long-awaited monsoons are our summer fun water source — and lifeline.
We’ve spent a lot of months praying for rain and at last we’re getting a few drizzles. When the big rains finally come, I’ll be out there singing, and dancing, too.

S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at; (575) 541-5450.