One month in the land of chiles and tumbleweeds

I didn't expect it to be so cloudy here. I imagined clear skies every day, but like a lot of things, nothing is ever that perfect.

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My new home in Santa Fe, NM, has afforded me lots of surprises as well as the opportunity to finally use my passion for journalism with The Santa Fe New Mexican. This past month has been a whirlwind of boxes, new faces, stress and a sprinkle of fun.

My fiancee and I are still tripping over boxes as we have hit that part of unpacking when you're just left with the random stuff you never really had a home for yet it all traveled with you. I am officially earning my way in life and oddly enjoying "adulting."

Over the past month, I have learned a few things about Santa Fe and the trials of being a young professional. 

1. Chapstick is the Holy Grail of the Southwest

The dryness is a welcome change from the wall of humidity that hits you in Georgia or Alabama, but it brings its own issues. For the first time I can remember, my hair is not giving off a halo of frizz just by stepping outside. However, by the end of the day I return home with burning lips that look like I smeared lipstick on and feel like a dried riverbed. I am not a fan.

Soon I am going to be like the chapstick magician, pulling out tubes of waxy relief from all different pockets, drawers and sleeves.

If you plan on visiting or living here, be prepared to lather yourself in moisturizers.

2. Red or green?

This is the most important question here and easily leads to debate. While primarily only brought up at restaurants, choosing red or green is almost the same gravity as sharing your sports team.

I am talking about chiles.

Here in New Mexico, the chile state, they put chile peppers on EVERYTHING. I'm talking burgers, burritos, pies and in bread. If you can eat it, you can bet someone has put chiles on it at some point.

Our first night in Santa Fe, we went to the Plaza Cafe Southside and were immediately faced with the daunting decision. Luckily, our waitress helped us out and gave us a sample of each sauce to help us make a decision.

The red chile sauce is typically spicier, with a chalkier finish in a creamy texture. The green chile sauce is sweeter and chunky with bits of the pepper, and varies from solely being pieces of the pepper to being a mix of paste and chiles.

Immediately, I took the green side.

However, for those of you who are indecisive or likes both, you can get what they call here Christmas. Yes, Christmas is year round in New Mexico, as far as the chiles are concerned anyway. This choice gives you exactly half of each sauce so you can mix as you choose or enjoy the separate flavors.

3. Paper burdens

As a young professional starting out and moving off of mom and dad's everything, there is SO MUCH paperwork to fill out. My head spins when I sit down and think of everything I need to get a new license plate and driver's license. Filling out forms for a new job was actually the easiest part as I mainly just had to sign my name.

My least favorite part of embarking as a young professional was setting up car insurance. While State Farm helped us a lot as we settled on policies, trying to envision what we would need and what we could afford was a headache.

I know paperwork never goes away, so really this is just the opening ceremony of endless amounts of forms to sign and numbers to calculate. 

I want to formerly apologize to all trees involved in this tedious task. I wish you had turned into coloring books instead.

4. Cyber dates

Meeting people has been hard as I work and my fiancee searches for work. If I didn't have him, I would probably be a hermit who binge watches way too many TV shows. I am so grateful to have Matt by my side through this journey.

I am also grateful that I live in a time when I can text friends from across the country and world and find non-traditional means of keeping in touch.

Every week, Matt and I play video games with college friends, which not only gives us something fun to do but allows us to stay in tune with the goings ons in their lives. I'm able to set up call dates with my friends from high school and while we can't meet in person, we get to hear each other's voices.

While we are navigating new relationships here in Santa Fe, having access to technology to fill some of the social gaps has been a godsend. Most of all, I am glad to have my best friend living with me and welcoming me home from work every day.

5. Constant fatigue

I seriously don't know how I survived high school when I had to be in class at 7 a.m. some semesters and go an entire day of classes before going to marching band practice and then completing homework. I can barely get through a work day without wishing for a nap. I wake up at 6 a.m. to work out and get to work at 8:30 a.m. By the time I get home around 6 p.m. and eat dinner, I am ready for bed.

I wasn't prepared for this constant exhaustion where I struggle to stay awake beyond 10 p.m. It's been a month of this routine and I still have not adjusted to the schedule. Daylight savings didn't help, but I thought I was stronger than this. Is it possible to be sleep deprived even with 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night?

Conclusion: I have a lot to learn.

From learning how to be better at my job to where the cool spots are in Santa Fe to how to more effectively budget expenses, there is still a lot of room for growth. I am excited to see where this adventure takes us.

 A mural in the Railyard District in downtown Santa Fe.

A mural in the Railyard District in downtown Santa Fe.