Friday, November 19, 2010

What Took Me So Long

I have always loved photography. I have always enjoyed creative pursuits. Alas, I have never had the confidence or the risk tolerance to pursue these things professionally. I haven't even been willing to enter a lousy photography contest. Ever. The first time I shared anything creative that I made (outside of a classroom setting where it was required) was earlier this year on still life 365.

But I could only share pieces of mine because Angie started actively asking for work. As a part of her effort and for the success of this amazing project, I could put aside my own ego/insecurity/vanity and participate, but on my own, I  never could. I posted that first submitted piece, a sestina, on this blog months after I wrote it and then only because the blog was visible solely to me at the time. For some reason, on sl365, I don't see the work I submit as about me at all, but rather as a part of a dialog among people who share the experience of babyloss and who use a variety of media to work through that experience. At the same time, it is as though a switch was flipped and I can and want to do more creative stuff! In front of others (potentially)!

From where I sit now,  my earlier reticence seems awfully pathetic. Not because I am great at any of this stuff. I recently had a revelation that someone's greatest talent might not actually be that great in the grand scheme of things. We have such a hard on for fame and greatness in our culture that it is easy to lose sight of how truly rare those things are. If the thing I am best at is photography, well, I am keeping my day job.

But I have hampered my own progress along the continuum of mediocrity by not exposing myself to greater scrutiny. That is, until this week!  I recently joined the local photography club. One of my neighbors is a member and I like her a great deal. I started going to meetings with her early this year and last month, I joined. This month, I entered the competition. The theme was water.

This image was eliminated in the first round because it did not adhere closely enough to the theme. I wasn't surprised, but I thought I would take the chance. Still, it got a laugh, which was a very nice reaction. I was hoping for a bit more feedback from the judge, but the judge actually didn't do a lot of thoughtful critiquing in my opinion.

The second image, which you may recognize from my masthead is one I have played with -- cropping, adjusting the sharpness, exposure and contrast. This is the most recent incarnation of the shot. I think it is more powerful without the other boats. It got an honorable mention.

And I owe it all to the inspiration I have drawn from others in the community.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

On Flying Forks, Momentarily Dodged

I am sitting right now in the office of a cancer practice alone and I am about to shit a brick. Good thing I brought something to type on. I pound a virtual keyboard with great force.

Now I am in an exam room. I am thinking about forks, the kinds that are in roads, the roads that are metaphorical.

Th Kleenex box is within reach. This has the opposite of its [presumed] intended effect. The room is crammed with vomit- inducing upholstery in a sickly purple. The speckled tile alternate lavender and aqua. There's nothing worse than pastels when they get dingy.  Even the baseboard is eggplant and plastic.

Right now it's 50/50. I walk out okay or I don't, ultimately.  I know that all too well now.

I am here for something presumed to be benign. Four years ago, almost to the day, I went to the antenatal testing center for something we presumed to be benign also. I walked out of there a different person. So, right now, my face is burning and my hands are freezin


The hematologist/oncologist walked in as I pounded that last 'n' and we chit-chatted about myriad topics. Strange that in the course of 5 minutes we discussed technology, finance and the most private and profound losses I have experienced. For him, just another day at the office. For me, my heart ripped open, but my face blank and clinical. The grief and panic brain, which are one and the same, wanted so desperately to yell profanities. Still, chatting casually was better than waiting in that room alone.

I have an active fear of cancer. The absence of (much) family history or known risk factors does not assuage my fears. Something about its seeming ubiquity, the sheer numbers, has convinced me that someone close to me will soon be drafted. And perhaps, now that I know better than to believe in balance, I no longer think that I am off the hook, that I have paid my dues in suffering to the coffers of human existence. Quite the contrary, actually. I have seen loss beget loss and so I am attentive to its possibilities, wanting, above all, not to be surprised.

But this time, and for the moment, what was presumed to be benign seemingly still is. Which makes me wonder; do dues collectors charge interest?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Worst Efforts

For the past few months, I have been losing the battle of focusing on diet and health issues. I am sliding back into a pattern of emotional eating and am largely out of my exercise routine. These things have never been areas of strength for me and yet, it is vitally important to me to set a good example for my children. The truth is, however, that I am a fraud and a hypocrite, not to mention a closet eater. At least, I'm closeted to the kids. D is often my partner in late night snacking, as in everything else (everything, that is, except for exercise where I am a hopeless sloth and he is a disciplined runner).

So, unsurprisingly, I was not looking forward to our local Turkey Trot yesterday. I pretty much convinced myself in the days leading up to it that the fatigue I've been feeling so much lately would overtake me and I would be unable to run the full 5K. But I decided that come what may, I would keep up with my son.

That proved not to be difficult, actually. N made it about half a mile before the complaints started. And the full-throated, high-pitched whining was not too far behind. Now, he's only 6  (almost 7!) and 3 miles is not  easy for a 6 year old, but I was really surprised. He did worse than last year, when he at least managed to get close to the turn-around before really letting loose with the vitriol and hot fuss. We don't force races upon him. He ALWAYS expresses interest (and not in the mamby-pamby 1 milers, mind you). And of course, he NEVER paces himself. Despite all the soccer and running and cycling he's done since our last 5K, he was actually less ready, it would seem. Being my son, he had plenty of perfectly legitimate reasons for why he could not possibly finish the race: his leg hurt, we did not feed him before the race, he hates races, we force him to run, he neck hurt, his shoes weren't right, I was embarrassing him (I was running backwards facing him and singing Journey. I call it encouragement.), etc.

n was in the jogging stroller, except for the brief sprints she did. At one point she was outrunning N. Talk about adding insult to injury! He rallied, ever so briefly, if only to establish sibling dominance. He still whined even then. He complained that it wasn't fair that she was running faster than him. We tried to cut deals about alternating walking with running. Frustrated, we even offered him the jogging stroller. No, he preferred martyrdom and even through all the afflictions imposed by his cruel parents, he maintained a degree of vanity.

Finally, belatedly, and for N, begrudgingly, we made a final sprint for the finish line, after which he turned to me and said, "I finished ahead of you."

Monday, November 01, 2010