Sunday, November 28, 2010

Countdown to 2011

And so it is that there are now only 33/32 days (depending on your time zone) until the next New Year reigns. How is that possible?

Intellectually, I know that time continues to pass at the same rate every day. Yet, year after year, months blend into what seems like just weeks, and each year passes in a whirlwind. Football season just started a couple of weeks ago, right, and now the bowl season is just around the corner. Halloween was just yesterday...nope that was Thanksgiving, and a couple of days have passed.

I don't feel like my life is so very routine that the days run into each other. I still feel like I accomplish a full range of tasks every day. But, the more things I jam into a day, the faster the day seems to fly. Even lazy days vaporize.

Where does the time go? I feel like life increments by a warp unit with each passing decade. I'm beginning to believe that "youth is wasted on the youth"...

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Foiled morning adventure(s)

Those who know me realize that I am, without a doubt, not-a-morning person. So when I make it up and get out of the house before noon (especially on weekends), it qualifies as a major accomplishment.

So when I woke up this morning and realized that today would be a perfect day to shoot some morning photos, I flipped a virtual coin to decide whether to go back to Olbrich (after being there last weekend for an art class) or go to Vilas Zoo for the first time. Preferring to opt for something new, I chose the zoo. New animal photos with my long lens would make me really happy, right?

So proud of myself, I ensured that I had two potential routes over to the zoo. After taking the most direct route and running into an eventual roadblock because of a race, I turned around and began my approach from my alternate route. Despite a couple of orange cones, it looked clear. So despite a couple of what appeared to be annoyed looks from pedestrians, I continued toward the Zoo, primarily because I was following another vehicle. Then, as I made my final approach to the zoo, I saw the racers running toward me. Surprisingly, there weren't any race officials out there telling me to move or get off the route of the annual Zoo Run Run. They really should put up signs along the route and actually block traffic...as much as I'm sure they didn't like me on the route, I ultimately was on a one-way road that didn't exactly allow me to turn around.

So now I've spend an hour-and-a-half navigating to and around someplace that was too populated to take good photos, and decided that I'd just head home and try to shoot some local shots at my neighborhood Badger Prairie Park. Yes, I had moments of indecision where I thought about heading over to Olbrich or maybe down to Blue Mounds State Park, but those thoughts disappeared when I realized I was both a bit hungry and thirsty. So I stop at the local park and start rigging up my gear when I realize that neither my gorilla-type tripod nor my monopod were in my car. Since I'm compulsive about locking my car, I didn't think they had been stolen. After all, why would someone steal a monopod and not a more expensive tripod. Anyway, that sealed it for me. The photo gods were not smiling on me this morning, and I came home. There, on the floor where I left it after the Ironman Triathlon a couple of weeks ago was my monopod, and my little flexible tripod was in my art bag.

I've eaten a brief snack, gotten a little bit of liquid in me to wet my whistle, and will grab a sandwich before venturing out again. This next adventure, of course, will be more successful, in that it will naturally be an afternoon adventure...

Monday, August 16, 2010

You see only part of me

As I walked outside this evening to a luminous half moon, I thought that what others see and know of me is not unlike the half-phase moon. What we see is far less than what's illuminated, and all that we're capable of seeing from our position here on terra firma is limited to half of a whole.

I'm one of those dorky pessimists who admits to having a dark side. I probably relish the dark side more than the light side because I enjoy the thinking being, and I'm more contemplative when the emotions flow freely in response to the outside world. These are the moments where inspiration flows, the muses take possession of my soul, and I must express these thoughts and feelings immediately. Rarely do I find these kinds of inspiration in the company of any people. Fortunately there are other reasons to enjoy the company of people, but I find myself more and more content as I become more and more reclusive.

This does not apply to the company of my faithful companion, Crash, however. I can gain perspective from this sweet, tough, frightened, regal, and goofy creature. I write and create with this flawed and awesome life by my side. I've found that my dogs provide essential support in the most trying times and without that support, I am lost. This is one of the reasons that I don't much like to travel...

I'd rather move someplace new with my dog than travel around the world alone. How sad others think I am. But with my dog, I am a part of pack. We become an insurmountable foe and can do anything. We can go anywhere with our heads held high or run away with our tails tucked in, as the situation warrants. Collectively, we know each others moves, and sense whatever else we need. It is an awesome collaboration that continues to strengthen with time, and differs with each dog.

I wonder whether if reopening my life in a new place will help remove the sense of unsettled that I feel here in Wisconsin. I felt this before in Tennessee, but not in Pittsburgh or Chicago. I need to relocate that sense of grounding and peace. Where next will that be?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

I hurt myself tying my shoe!

So, I wake up this morning knowing that it will turn into a pretty toasty day outside, and not being much of a morning person, I consider it an accomplishment to get out of the house before 11 am on a weekend day. All well and good. I figure out my shopping list for Home Depot, and I'm ready to leave the house at 10:30 as soon as I put on my sneakers.

Or so I thought...I sit on my loveseat and tie up my sneakers, and then get up to a wincing pain in the knee. No warning. No popping. No obvious weirdness. I pull out the cane that I acquired a couple of years ago for a popped calf tendon, and hobble around the house, grabbing the ice bag as I inch along.

Eventually I did make it out to the Depot...they didn't have the glass tiles that I wanted, but I was able to grab some replacement louvers for the vertical blinds in my living room, a potted orchid, a potted Gerbera daisy, and an oak dowel. I successfully work my way through the self-check out, but inadvertently miss ringing up the dowel. So I proceed to do the second transaction for the dowel, grab my receipt, and walk (or should I say limp?) out to the car. As I place my items in the car, I realize that I don't have the dowel, so I walk back in to the store and get the wayward wood. Sometimes it seems as though very interesting forces are at work. Even as I typed this, I realized that I momentarily could not locate that same dowel...

As I was driving home, I figured I could stop for about 10 minutes to shoot some pictures. The car had been air conditioned for awhile, and the plants would be fine, right? I grab a few quick shots, head back home, and pull all the goodies and wayward goodies out of the car (yes, I really did put the dowel in the house...it's on a chair next to the sliding glass door). To my dismay, the daisies all had wilted. Now I'm not a gardener by any means, but I do buy live plants as photographic and artistic subject matter. Sometimes they survive for weeks, even months before I completely neglect them. This one didn't even make it home before the blooms were toast. Right now, I've snipped the 3 flowers off the main foliage, and they're partially reconstituted in a large bowl of water...but certainly not the subject matter that I had intended.

I've rested, elevated, and iced that knee several more times today, but it's still misbehaving. I really don't want to add a knee brace to my arsenal of home medical supplies. As I noted before, I have a cane. I also have a sling (woosy shoulders), an array of ace bandages, a thigh wrap, several first aid kits, finger and wrist splints, ankle and elbow supports, and sundry other supplies...Most of these have been very useful over the years of minor sprains and strains associated with athletic endeavors. I can even peacefully justify their use when I move in some way that my body isn't accustomed. But when it comes down to things like "I must have slept in a bad position" or "I was just standing up"...I find it a bit annoying.

I started competitive athletics at age 8. Along the way, the list of sports has included softball, basketball, volleyball, field hockey, soccer, tennis, racquetball, and a little bit of gold. I used to lift weights and do strengthening with all the lovely gym equipment. Then I hit 35, and my dominant shoulder started screaming at me daily. I did physical therapy rehab twice and continued to be in pain every day. Ice was my best friend and Ibuprofen was my second best friend. My orthopedists gave me a variety of exercises that I did religiously and I found friends willing to give up their lunch hour to help me do the 100 throws a day pitching regimen, just to keep going.

A number of things were going on in my life, and depression hit big time. I gave up all athletic endeavors and crawled into a quiet, safe place. As I SLOWLY emerged from this depression months down the line, I realized that my shoulder didn't hurt. My docs had always told me to keep working, strengthening, playing. My body had decided otherwise. So technically I mostly retired from any competitive athletics...for about 8 years before playing softball and volleyball again. I still goofed around a bit and hiked and did other active things, and really payed for damages whenever a bowling ball was involved...I went from using an 11-12 pound ball down to an 8 pound ball and that was still NOT light enough for the shoulder [I did, however, have the tendency to hold on to the light ball a bit longer than I should, and did a softball pitch THUNK down the lane].

Anyway, I'm not the gal who generally stops if something hurts (usually only when forced to do so), but to have giant twinges of pain for NO APPARENT reason really chips me off. So, as I close this story to add ice to injury (again), sign all of my joints as well older than my years...

Friday, July 30, 2010

Walking in the Path of Others

I often feel that I walk outside the main stream. Realistically, I should say that I've always felt that way, and my feelings are reinforced generally at least once a day...

My actions were influenced (often most severely) by what I perceived as consequences of other people's actions. Part of this is rooted in being the youngest child in a set of five and an "observer" personality type. I watched my older siblings get into a lot of things--or heard about them as the punishments were doled out. I probably learned more from their mistakes than actually by my own--at least in my early years.

When I went off to college, I really was on my own to make a bucketful of mistakes, or in the vernacular of the marketing spin-doctoring, "learning experiences". Of course, some of the responsibility for these errors in judgment can be shared with others, but some were clearly my own lapses or naivetes.

I've been told that if I'm living my life "right", then I should be able to do so without regrets. Since I have regrets, some may say that the converse is true: I'm living my life "wrong". I believe instead that my sequence of life-changing events has played out according to someone else's script. The character in that script was slated to be far more resilient, confident, and thicker-skinned than I.

Rather than resilience, I have determination to pick myself up by the bootstraps. I can envision myself attempting this type of maneuver: falling first flat onto my face and then back on my keister in a farcical, repetitive sequence. I also can see the Acme logo on the side of the bootstraps and hear the roadrunner mockingly beep-beeping.

Confidence, or self-esteem, is an interesting concept to my internal observer. It has absolutely nothing to do with talent or ability. It often has no grounding in reality. It is clearly a state of believing "I can". I used to believe that I could do or be anything. I no longer believe this, but also do not perceive this as a bad thing.

Functionally, I might be able to learn and retain enough information to be a FILL-IN-THE-BLANK-HERE. I'm intelligent enough to put the pieces together and curious enough to learn on my own or from a mentor. But, realistically, there are some things that "I can't" do. There are other things that I won't do. There are things that I've not been able to do; and I'm not ashamed to own up to them. Perhaps that, too, is something heinous to admit...it often seems to me that many need to tell themselves that they can to help them feel better.

I have no problem saying that I've never done something before; fortunately that doesn't prevent me from trying it, succeeding, failing, liking, or disliking it. Self-esteem seems to present itself in me as an accomplishment reward rather than a precursor to an activity.

My freckled skin seems to shed light on the permeability or thickness factor. I have tons of teeny tiny freckles, maybe constituting 5% of the surface area, separated by large patches of unpigmented areas. If I'm prepared and slather on SPF100 lotion every quarter hour or so, I can handle a limited amount of damage. On the other hand, if I'm caught unprotected, I'm going to burn quickly and severely across the huge majority. I take all of my creative endeavors personally--and that includes both my art and work. I'm more passionate about my art, but I'm still fully vested in my work!

My wise and powerful introversion gene down-regulated my expression today, which is why my fingers need to take care of releasing bits tonight.

Friday, January 29, 2010

> 140 characters...

I've been off spending time on Facebook and Twitter trying to catch up with friends and family in the past year, and tonight I feel the need to write a longer passage. I'm having a temporary case of severe cynicism...

I'm struggling with the fact that the Palin twit continues to find a voice and listeners. I'm dismayed that there is so much political polarization running amuck rather than doing something productive. It's disturbing that people with the biggest egos are out there in roles of managers, executives, and other powerful positions. Luckily, I suppose, for them, their egos seem to be enough; unluckily, for the rest of us, I think we'd prefer real substance, strategy, and commitment.

Then again, maybe we don't care about real substance. We watch staged reality shows. We pay attention the the trails behind people like Heidi/Barbie. We see spin-doctoring come into play to repaint bad choices into uncontrollable addictions. We think Simon's the bad guy because he tells people that can't sing exactly that.

We hide our real feelings, or, apparently, many of us eat our real feelings to spare those of others. We fill our lives with so many activities, and then need to fill them with other activities to alleviate the stress that we're under. We hate the actual wars that go on and spend endless hours manipulating electronics in virtual war games.

We need to know the news at every given second, and with microblogging, we don't seem to question the credibility of the source. We can't leave the house without knowing the weather prediction for the day and we accept those unreliable predictions that seem only marginally better than bursitis in a shoulder. Secretly, we all wish we could have the weather person's job where we could make mistakes over and over again, and it was considered acceptable. News flash: life, in general, is not an exact science; humans are quite fallible.

There are, of course, parts of life that are pretty wonderful and, honestly, I find human foibles and flaws far more interesting than the more perfect aspects (whatever the heck those are). On those days where real life just doesn't seem enough to clear the senses, I can fall inside a book or a painting and gain new perspective. I know tonight's melancholy and cynicism can be attributed to the evils of caffeine and insufficient sleep. I can hope that tonight will be filled with a restful sleep...and tomorrow will start anew first with a big wet kiss from buddy, Crash. Definitely one of the few parts of morning that I enjoy. To bed. To sleep.
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