Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Christmas in April!

Last night I arrived home to a wonderful surprise -- the book Creature, which a friend had given me for Christmas last year. Unfortunately the first printing of the book had completely sold out and it took until now to reprint. But it was totally worth the wait. Creature is full of amazing animal photographs by Andrew Zuckerman, all placed on plain white backgrounds so that the animal's characteristics and pose stand out quite starkly and beautifully. Check out this video from the photo shoot for the book.

You can find some pictures from the book here.

Thanks, B!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Thinking about life

I was talking to a wise woman yesterday about my feeling that I'm casting about, and that I keep wanting to make some enormous change but all the changes I think about making don't seem like the right ones. Examples: moving, sometimes to town and sometimes to a whole new place; changing jobs; changing jobs and moving; buying a car, computer, flat-screen tv, or other big ticket item, or every big ticket item; etc. I really don't want to do any of these things, but I keep thinking about them. I believe this is a very subtle signal from my subconscious that I want to change *something*. But what?

In the course of our conversation, I said something about being afraid I wouldn't have any retirement years to enjoy, because I might be dead or severely disabled by then. Not to be gruesome, mind you -- it's something I worry about mostly because my mother had a stroke at the age of 52. DH (which does not stand for dear husband as it does everywhere else, but rather for the aforementioned wise woman) said that one thing I could do is to think about my five-year plan. Where do I want to be in 5 years? And what are the steps I can take to get there? And what things can I implement right now to make this time more enjoyable and fulfilling?

Now part of me has never liked having or making goals. I like the idea of seeing where life takes me. And part of me thinks that 50 year olds with 5-year plans are kind of absurd, which when you think about it is absurd of me to think. Obvy, people of all ages have ideas of where they want to be down the road.

Part of me is afraid to want things because I might not get them.

Part of me is now keeping a journal detailing events during each day that (a) surprise, (b) move, or (c) inspire me. This, in an attempt to find patterns that might lend some direction to my mindless casting about.

I'd say I'll keep you posted, but do I ever follow-up on anything that I say that about? I'll keep you posted if I think to do so...

Monday, April 28, 2008

Your mother called. She'd like coffee.

It's that time of year when our inboxes and mailboxes are bombarded with messages about what to get mom for Mother's Day. The first year after my mom died, I found this incredibly painful. Incredibly. To defend myself, I would make rather macabre jokes about these ads.

For instance, the one above (from our friends at Green Mountain Coffee, a company I normally love) would become:

Your mother called FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE. She'd like coffee.

Although come to think of it, whatever the afterlife holds, MY mother probably DOES want coffee.

Friday, April 25, 2008

A beautiful day, an aching jaw, and a new toy

It's so gorgeous outside that it is a travesty to be inside. Or at work. But what can one do?

And my jaw does ache, for no apparent reason. It goes through periods where it aches, followed by longer periods where it does not. I await the latter eagerly.

New toy! I've mentioned that I've been shopping for big ticket items lately, but for the most part I have resisted buying much. I have bought some books, I finally bought inexpensive white curtains that have transformed my living room, but yesterday my new camera arrived! Now I have 3, but 2 of them are much older than the one I got yesterday. Here is a picture:
Is it not beautiful? As you can see, it has a 10x optical zoom, and its point-and-shootiness is extremely excellent. It has no viewfinder, but the (3 inch!) lcd screen adjusts itself so that one can see it even in the bright light. You can change a lot of the settings yourself, or rely on the "intelligent auto" mode which seems to make better decisions than I do.

The camera I've been carrying around for a couple or several years is big and clunky and I do love it, but it's been weighing me down, man. I love it mostly for its 12x zoom, so to find a 10x zoom on a much smaller/lighter camera was a boon. I'll be able to travel light now instead of carrying a huge camera bag all the time. And although I got the last camera with grandiose plans to learn the manual settings and graduate to a DSLR, I find I'm more of a point and shoot and play with it in Photoshop kind of gal.

Now if I could only get up the nerve to take random shots of strangers...

Thursday, April 24, 2008

10 point victories are pretty damn good

I love Howard Kurtz. If you're a Hillary supporter, as I am, then the excitement of yesterday's news of her victory in Pennsylvania was somewhat tempered by the media coverage of that news. Here's H. Kurtz, directly responding to that wtf feeling:

Barack Obama stumbled, bumbled, faltered and faded, but he still has a lock on the nomination.

That, in a nutshell, is the media consensus after Pennsylvania. Now I've saved you all kinds of time because you don't have to read anything else.

Journalists often accuse the Hillary camp of moving the goalposts--let's only focus on big states, blue states, the popular vote, whatever--but the media did a bit of that on Tuesday. After telling us for days on end that Hillary Clinton had to win by six to eight points for her victory to be significant, they largely dismissed her 10-point margin, saying it doesn't change anything. The math is the math, she can't possibly catch up, yadda yadda yadda. Hillary woke up yesterday morning to that NYT un-endorsement, castigating her for taking the low road and beseeching her to get the hell out of the race.

You can read the rest of the article here.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Must break blog silence

I suppose I feel self-conscious about the confessions post from, well, the last time I posted. Urp. But enough said about that, or some might say too much said...

I didn't post for Earth Day yesterday, so today I will share with you a cartoon that I stole from somewhere:

And in conclusion, I would just like to say: Go Hillary! Way to win Pennsylvania!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Confessions that I should probably keep to myself

1. Remember when I talked about that thing that happened at work that made me lose my perspective but then I regained my perspective fairly quickly? That wasn't regained perspective, that was a lightly scabbed-over deep wound to the spirit. I mean, who was I kidding? It's been simmering here, just under the surface, and now every time I have a "spot of bother" at work I'm feeling just miserable. I applied introspection to this problem and realized that, while I'm fully aware that I'm not perfect, I was trying so hard to be perfect here, and working for someone who seemed to think I was perfect, and who is also a perfectionist, that now the bloom is off the rose and I don't even feel like trying anymore. This is not a reaction I'm proud of, but it's a familiar pattern. I feel like I can never attain the same level of respect, and I don't want to try at least partially because I'm mad to find that a) I was being perfectionistic again and b) I'm working for a perfectionist. Although neither should surprise me, especially the latter because, my friends, not only does one marry one's father/mother, one also works for them. Which really just means that it's yet another opportunity to work on longstanding issues. I'm not perfect, the person I work for isn't perfect, and I don't even think I'm perfect, and yet I hope to be perfect. The whole thing is out of control. Must calm down. Must give self permission to flub things up once in a while. Isn't flub a good word?

2. This is very hard for me to say, but... I thought painting my house and redoing my bathroom would make me happier than it has. I feel like I got used to it instantly and it doesn't feel all that different, even though I know -- I know! -- that it has changed radically. It's very beautiful now, and I don't feel like I have to ignore the yucky walls which have needed painting since before I moved in. And the bathtub is truly joyous. But I feel in some ways like I've had it forever. Even though I just got it. I know that money can't buy happiness, but I love my home, and I really thought that sprucing it up would make me love it so much more. And I do still love it, and maybe the bar was pretty high to begin with, but I haven't felt an incredible increase of love. This is such a dopey thing to complain about, and I don't really mean to complain. It's just something I noticed. I've dreamed for years of having the interior painted. I thought it would make the house perfect (eek, perfection again). And it does look utterly gorgeous. I just didn't think I'd get used to it that fast -- I thought I would feel renewed wonder every time I looked at it.

Thus endeth my confessions. Don't judge me! Or go ahead and judge me, I have no control over what you do.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

I actually do something interesting and then forget all about it

Last week, largely because of an article in the Cville, I decided to join a CSA. CSA stands for "community-supported agriculture," so maybe it's more correct to say I joined CSA. Or maybe CSA needs an F for farm or O for organization at the end. It's a little weird to say "I joined a Community-Supported Agriculture." But I digress.

Probably everyone knows, but in CSA, one buys a share of the harvest for a particular farm. You pay in advance for the entire growing season, and then you pick up a weekly box of fruit and veggie goodness. It's a chunk of money up front, but averages out to only about $20 a week -- great for a vegetarian, especially, because then I can just add some grains and viola, food for the entire week. I think I'll actually be spending less on food than I usually do, because I normally procure many prepared foods.

Of course, this also means that I will have to cook. We'll see how I do with that. I think it will be good for me to eat fresh food and to prepare it myself. I always feel better when I eat healthier and this could be just the ticket.

Or I could make a weekly plea for someone to come get the veggies that I can't possibly eat in a week.

I decided to join Best of What's Around, not because it belongs to Dave Matthews, whose music I, um, don't actually know (but don't tell anyone I said that as I believe I would be run out of town on a rail), but because it's the largest concern around, with the most diverse crop list. It's also fairly close to me, but they, like most CSA's, have pickup locations in town as well.

Monday, April 7, 2008

In which I initially don't know what to say, and then find something

Haven't been too blogalicious lately, so I thought I'd take a stab at posting something. I feel like my life isn't all that interesting right now, so what should I say?

The weekend was calm and relaxing. I stayed home reading (and watching too much tv) most of the time. Went out to have my hair done. Read an entire book by Jodi Picoult, her new one which I'm not going to review because everyone reviews her books and most do it a lot better than I can.

The tv thing is out of hand. My cable's been off (intentionally!) since last summer, but now that one can watch tv on the internet, I'm catching up on the entire season of all the shows I would have watched if I had had cable. There's something wrong with that. Why not just get cable? Well, I found I was watching too much tv and not doing enough reading.

My computer is leading me straight to hell. And it's not like I can get rid of it. Or could I? Hmmm. Entire weekends and evenings without the computer. I would have to remove it from the house in order to stick with my resolve, because if it's in the house I'm using it, that's all there is to it. I can't see getting rid of it entirely, although in thinking about it, would that be so bad?

Must think this through. I'm certainly no ascetic -- my life is very comfortable -- but watching tv is not how I want to be spending my time.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The down side of avoidance

(As if avoidance has an up side.)

I found myself shopping for multiple big-ticket items last week, and the problem has only waned slightly this week. I don't think it's only because my friend bought a new car, although that certainly started me off. It's hard not to be jealous of a new car and want one for yourself. I have an 8 year old Corolla that is utterly reliable, so my only real reason to get a new car is boredom (not to mention greed -- but we weren't going to mention that). My car, it used to seem so shiny and new. It had all the latest features. Now it looks old-fashioned since all the cars have been redesigned over the last 8 years. Bonus feature of my car, though: it's been paid off for 3 years. No car payments is a powerful incentive for curbing car shopping impulses.

However, I've also looked at computers (does everyone see a Dell ad every 10 seconds, or is that just me?), lcd tv's, furniture, drapes (not as big a ticket, but still), and who knows what else... I've just been doing a lot of shopping. Usually I am stopped dead in my tracks once I realize (a) I have no money and (b) none of these things will really make me happy. Of course, things don't make people happy, but I don't mean that. I mean that I see no real evidence that these items will even increase my happiness at this point in my life. In fact, because of the financial impact, I'd say they might decrease my happiness after the initial "ooh, shiny" period wears off.

It started to seem to me that constant shopping and wishing for material things was probably a sign that I was avoiding something, and that I needed to sit and be quiet and let the feelings come out. Which I managed to do, to some extent. They're scary feelings though, like loneliness, feeling superfluous, feeling scared of aging and death and just what the future holds in general. The fear of the unknown. When I experience the feelings, they don't stick around for too long. It's when I avoid them that they dig in and take root. Why is that, I wonder? Why can't we avoid feelings and just not experience them? I guess I could if I found distractions that would put them off forever. I could just keep buying and buying. I could work 70 hour weeks. I could stay busy busy busy. But somehow none of that seems terribly fulfilling, and if you let up for one minute, the feelings come up anyway. As a wise person once told me "you can't keep from experiencing the bad... but by avoiding it, you can keep from experiencing the good."