Fri, 13 Oct 2006
Wondering on a Friday Afternoon
It's a Friday afternoon and I'm home from work. I've been home all week, sick with bronchitis.
I was supposed to be with Richard right now, being relieved of my various pains under the magic of his hands. I probably would've cancelled anyway because I wasn't feeling well enough. But as it turns out his mum is dying and so he had to go to be with her. And I'm feeling shit about that because... well, it's just an awful thing to have to do - watch your mother die.
So rather than being gently massaged into a beautiful little happy space, I instead have the afternoon to sit here and contemplate death and life.
In the words of the dear and wonderful Denver Doug, I've been wondering. Wondering what it means to be happy and why some people have so little and still seem to be happy and others of us have so much and but have such little happiness.
I was also wondering what it means to be successful and how one might define success in life... when I die will my life have been worthwhile? And why? Is it enough to bring two boys into the world and raise them up to be decent men?
Why do I feel at the moment that I am too stretched in all directions and doing no single thing very well. If I am one of the lucky ones in society - good salary, good job, house - then why do I not feel lucky? Why do I feel trapped by a mortgage and a relentless grind? I would so love to give up work... I ache with sheer tiredness and exhaustion some days... a weariness that just seeps into my bones. Never time to stop. Never time to take a break. Never time... I can't even take a real holiday because almost all my leave gets used as sick leave, for myself and the kids. This has been going on for years... endless work, sickness, kids. On the weekends, so great is the number of things I have to think about sometimes, and so huge my exhaustion, that I end up paralyzed, doing nothing...
And yet I have to feel that something that I do is worthwhile, else why would I stay alive? I don't know what that is, yet. Raising my boys, yes, of course. I could never let them down. I will always be there for them.
But what else? Photography? I'm smart enough to know that I will never be good enough to matter. And I'm not saying that to try and elicit compliments on my photography. I'm saying it because - in truth - so few photograhers actually do really matter. So surely there must be something else that I can contribute to the world besides a few shallow photographs.
Ech... enough brooding and navel-gazing. Time to think about picking up kids. :)
Wed, 23 Aug 2006
Day 7, post chin-job.
It's simply amazing how quickly the body heals. My chin has gone from being a painful, bleeding, swollen, oozing, crusty, scabby mess to new red-pink skin in just a week! I can't believe it.
Okay, it still has a tiny bit of scab left, and my entire chin looks bright red... but it's healed!
I still don't think it was worth it, though.
I had an appointment with the Doctor this morning, who confirmed that it is healing very nicely indeed.
Me: "But it looked so very awful the day after!"
Dr: "I know."
Me: "I guess you steer well clear of clients in the first couple days post-op, huh?"
Dr (looking rather sheepish): "Well, sometimes they do ring in."
Me: "I damn well bet they do! Given their face suddenly looks like a grenade has gone off just in front of it."
Dr: Stunned silence.
We then discussed my going back to work on Monday. My chin will still be quite red... it takes 3-6 weeks for the red/pinkness to completely go away. The doctor told me that they have a special make-up kit for sale if I was interested... the cost is $200.
I snorted. "Nah. The poor suckers at work will just have to put up with looking at me!"
Doctor: Stunned silence.
For some reason, I don't think I'm his typical clientele.
Thu, 17 Aug 2006
In the Name of Beauty
Okay, so I went under the knife today. Well, not exactly a knife, but a laser...
I had some scarring on my chin which I've had smoothed out with laser surgery, as well as having some moles and other sundry bits and pieces excised from my body.
All I have to say about the whole experience is.... OUUUUCCCCHHHHHH.
It hurts like hell! I mean, really really hurts.
I had over twenty injections of local anaesthetic, twelve of which were in my face. Who knew faces had so many nerve endings! It was excrutiating.
And now, approximately twelve hours laters, my chin looks like some horrible disfigured Incredible Melting Man with blood and swelling and oozing and, well... it's just freaking gross. It can't even be covered with a dressing, because of the awkward location, so all I can do is put vaseline on it to protect it and leave it open for all the world to see.
My four year old is scared of me.
And it aches, throbs, burns and just plain hurts.
And this is just my chin. How do women have this done to their whole face?!
Anyway, this has taught me a valuable lesson: I am NEVER having cosmetic surgery done ever again. I don't care how grotesque I am. I will live with my imperfections.
I don't know how women repeatedly subject themselves to laser surgery, chemical peels, botox, implants, nips and tucks, major reconstructions.
What kind of crazy world do we live in that we do this to ourselves, of our own free will, all in the name of "beauty"?
I'm pretty sure if I knew what I was feeling and looking like right now, I would not have gone ahead with this.
But maybe it's like childbirth... you forget the pain, and a year later you start thinking... hmmm... another one wouldn't be so bad... would it?
Well let me answer that question straight away: Yes. Yes, it would be so bad.
Don't do it.
Fri, 21 Jul 2006
I don't normally do these quizzes but I found this one over at Deb's and really liked the resulting obituary for myself:
I love the idea of dying hilariously in a modern art museum. And Paris Hilton and I, we're tight.
Thu, 20 Jul 2006
Man, it's so nice to write here. It feels safe and warm. I like writing here. It's mine. It's me just being me. Well, mostly.
I'm getting some laser surgery done next month. I have scarring on my chin and the very nice plastic surgeon man is going to "resurface" it. That's a euphemism for burning off the top layers of skin until it's a great weeping raw wound. Sounds like fun, eh?
I thought it would be so straightforward, but nooooo... I almost decided not to do after he explained the procedure.
The first three days afterwards, it will be raw and weeping. It can't be bandaged because there's no bandage that will actually stay on the chin - too awkward a spot. So guess what, it gets covered in vaseline and stays exposed to the world.
Then it starts to scab over. I guess scabby is better than open and weeping... but not much!
After another week or two, the scab starts to fall off, and the fresh new healing skin is revealed.... except it's bright pink. Sort of glow-in-the-dark pink for about 6-12 weeks.
After which time, it either goes back to normal... or it's permanently white for the rest of my life.
And I PAY him for the privilege of doing this!
So why bother? I've been asking myself that... but I know this is something I want to do. I've had a scarred chin for 20 years now, and I've always hated it, always been conscious of it.
The doctor is good and very honest. He told me my chin will never look normal, but that he thinks that a 50% improvement is possible.
That's worth it to me.
Tue, 11 Jul 2006
Hey, it's been a while... but it's nice to be back. I've been writing in another blog, a joint one with Michael. We haven't really told anyone about it, just thought we'd see how it goes. If you want to have a look, go to my Flickr account and look at my profile.
The blog is a bit different than this one - it's public for a start. But I'm not sure about it. It feels a lot more comfortable here at Slipstream. I like writing here. It just feels right.
I thought I'd do a little catch up entry, seeing as I haven't been here for two months.
Let's see... Michael had The Big Web Conference that shall not be named here, and it was extremely successful. More about that in another entry. The lead-up to that was full-on, as Michael was the chair of the organising committee. The conference week itself was so much fun... I was there as a proper paid-up attendee - my employer sent me and four others of us - but I got to sit with the big names, and even talk to a few of them. It was all very inspiring and I walked away feeling wonderful about it all. That didn't last. Again, more about that in another entry.
The photography exhibition was low-key but nice... a few people came up and complimented me. I didn't sell anything, but didn't expect to. It was just nice to be involved.
I haven't had a chance to get out shooting much. Work has been kicking my ass - so busy juggling several projects. I did get to spend a Saturday in June with a friend and her daughter who was attending her senior ball. I photographed her getting her hair done, her nails, her makeup, formal photos in her dress. It was a wonderful day and I enjoyed it very much.
I'm starting the second level of the photography course soon. The course will involve putting together a portfolio of work. I think it will be good because it will get me to focus on what I want to achieve with my photography.
It's been a cold winter here so far - I think the coldest in a long while. So we've been spending a lot of time inside, trying to keep warm. There was a big article in the Sunday paper about New Zealand houses and how they are all uninsulated and have no central heating, and how New Zealanders are completely nutcase ascetics who believe it's wimpy to have heating, and how you should just throw on another sweater if you're cold. These people are crazy.
Joshua has had an ongoing cold all winter, but the rest of us seem to have avoided coming down ill (knock on wood).
Matthew turned 8 in June!! Eight going on 18. He's taking guitar lessons, and doing really well. He wants to get an electric guitar and be in a band, but I told him he needs to learn acoustic first. His teacher is great - he actually lectures in music at Victoria University, but also teaches guitar as well.
Well, this tired brain can't think of anything more to say at the moment. Hope you've all been well.
Mon, 08 May 2006
On a High
Okay, so I've been asked to contribute to a photographic exhibition that's being held in Wellington. It's a small exhibition of Wellington photographers that will be held as part of a conference.
I showed the organiser about 15 of my photos today, and he emailed back saying he'd like to put four in!
Not just one, or two, or three... but four! I wasn't expecting that at all. I thought maybe he might choose one.... if I was lucky.
I am so excited. I can't believe that I'm going to have some photos in an exhibition....
I am on such a high.
Wed, 19 Apr 2006
The full moon and my menstrual cycle came dangerously close to clashing this month. God only knows what's going to happen when it does, because I'm wakeful, frustrated and agitated during a full moon, and completely loony when I'm having my period. Imagine a hypermanic shrewbitch at midnight. *Shudder*
Yes it's that time of the month once again. I hate it. Have I mentioned that before? I absolutely hate it. When is this all over? Somebody please put me out of my misery.
Because it's not just that I'm bleeding like a stuck pig. No, that in itself is just a minor hiccup in the otherwise smooth flow (no pun intended) of my life. It's not that I still get tender sore boobs. It's not that I now know, finally, in my forty-second year what is meant by "retaining water."
No, I can cope with those things. What I can't cope with are the migraines which have, over the last year and a half, become so bad that I finally had to admit that they are debilitating.
I'd been trying to ignore them. I know, I know. How could I be so stupid as to think I could ignore a migraine? Seems obvious to most people. I guess I thought if I ignored them, they might go away. But they haven't.
The Mersyndol had long ago stopped working. I'd held up for a long while on the mixture of codeine and ibuprofen that I could buy over the counter. But after a while that stopped working as well. So I would end up each month just spending a day, or two, at home in bed, taking all the drugs I could buy in an attempt to bring some kind of relief.
The truth that I had a real problem finally hit home last month when I woke up one morning with a migraine, and couldn't feel the left side of my face or my right arm. It felt exactly like when you get an injection at the dentist.
I couldn't talk or swallow properly. I couldn't type or write with my right hand.
Terrific, I thought. A stroke!
Well you can't really ignore complete loss of feeling in parts of your body. So I took myself off to the doctor. She did tests. She tested reflexes. And then she said "It's a focal migraine!"
I'd never heard of a focal migraine, but apparently it's a migraine with neurological symptoms which can mimic a stroke. But it's not a stroke. The loss of feeling and any other symptoms are temporary, whereas a stroke causes permanent damage.
Nevertheless, it was a real wake up call for me. I am now taking medication every day which is supposed to help prevent migraines (A beta blocker. It also lowers blood pressure). And I have Imigran in case I start to get a migraine.
So this month hasn't been nearly as bad, headache-wise.
We'll see how it goes.
Sat, 08 Apr 2006
Today I did my final session in my photography course. It was a darkroom session, and I spent three hours in the darkroom with Mark.
I'd taken a roll of black and white film one lunchtime this week, and was quite pleased with the results. So today I spent three hours getting proofsheets and three prints from three of the best shots.
I just loved it. I could spend all day in there... trying different things... dodging and burning.
I'd used chromagenic black and white film that I was able to just take to the lab, and got 5x3 prints and negatives from the lab. I then used the negatives to create prints.
When I compared the small prints I had got back from the lab to the darkroom prints, the prints I had created in the darkroom were just so much better! They had more depth, tonal range, contrast. They were... dare I say it, frameable!
So... I am completely hooked on film, black and white, and doing my own darkroom processing. I'm even thinking about creating my own darkroom here at home.
There is something so magical about seeing an image that you've created mysteriously start to appear on white photographic paper. I don't think that thrill will ever disappear.
Wed, 29 Mar 2006
The People Yes
If you want to hear something inspiring, controversial, thought-provoking - go download the podcast of Bruce Sterling's closing speech at the SXSW conference this year. Words that come to mind when I think about this speech are: visionary, technology, global, people, environment, responsibility, people, politics, culture, people, people, people.
I can honestly say that this is the only conference speech that has ever made me cry. Ever.
The download time will have been worth it just to hear him recite an excerpt from Carl Sandburg's "The People Yes"
The people yes
The people will live on.
The learning and blundering people will live on.
They will be tricked and sold and again sold
And go back to the nourishing earth for rootholds,
The people so peculiar in renewal and comeback,
You can't laugh off their capacity to take it.
The mammoth rests between his cyclonic dramas.
The people so often sleepy, weary, enigmatic,
is a vast huddle with many units saying:
"I earn my living.
I make enough to get by
and it takes all my time.
If I had more time
I could do more for myself
and maybe for others.
I could read and study
and talk things over
and find out about things.
It takes time.
I wish I had the time."
The people is a tragic and comic two-face: hero and hoodlum:
phantom and gorilla twisting to moan with a gargoyle mouth:
"They buy me and sell me...it's a game...sometime I'll
Once having marched
Over the margins of animal necessity,
Over the grim line of sheer subsistence
Then man came
To the deeper rituals of his bones,
To the lights lighter than any bones,
To the time for thinking things over,
To the dance, the song, the story,
Or the hours given over to dreaming,
Once having so marched.
Between the finite limitations of the five senses
and the endless yearnings of man for the beyond
the people hold to the humdrum bidding of work and food
while reaching out when it comes their way
for lights beyond the prison of the five senses,
for keepsakes lasting beyond any hunger or death.
This reaching is alive.
The panderers and liars have violated and smutted it.
Yet this reaching is alive yet
for lights and keepsakes.
The people know the salt of the sea
and the strength of the winds
lashing the corners of the earth.
The people take the earth
as a tomb of rest and a cradle of hope.
Who else speaks for the Family of Man?
They are in tune and step
with constellations of universal law.
The people is a polychrome,
a spectrum and a prism
held in a moving monolith,
a console organ of changing themes,
a clavilux of color poems
wherein the sea offers fog
and the fog moves off in rain
and the labrador sunset shortens
to a nocturne of clear stars
serene over the shot spray
of northern lights.
The steel mill sky is alive.
The fire breaks white and zigzag
shot on a gun-metal gloaming.
Man is a long time coming.
Man will yet win.
Brother may yet line up with brother:
This old anvil laughs at many broken hammers.
There are men who can't be bought.
The fireborn are at home in fire.
The stars make no noise,
You can't hinder the wind from blowing.
Time is a great teacher.
Who can live without hope?
In the darkness with a great bundle of grief
the people march.
In the night, and overhead a shovel of stars for keeps, the people
"Where to? what next?"
This poem resonates with me, brings to mind the Maori whakatauki "He aha te mea nui o te Ao? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata." (What is the most important thing in the world? It is people, it is people, it is people).
Go. Now. Listen to the podcast. You will be glad you did.
Mon, 27 Mar 2006
All together now.... awwwwwwwwwwww.....
Michael sent this to me one day at work. Before long I had the whole office going awwwwww....
You especially have to check out this one:
Okay, I promise I will never again post anything *this* cute.
Wed, 22 Mar 2006
Doing Something Special
So while I was gone I took myself off over to Flickr and immersed myself in photography.
Flickr is a wonderful place for meeting lots of different people, a great place for being social, a space for looking at many different genres and types of photography. I am in awe of some of the images posted there on a daily basis - the range of styles and the raw talent of people who call themselves "amateurs" and some who are also professional.
It is a vast place, a place as big as the world, as big as the inner workings of our hearts and mind, a place to drink in diversity... of style, colour, format, subject, culture, experience, emotion...
I have discovered, though, that for me, Flickr is not a place to improve my photography on any serious or professional level. Not that my photography hasn't improved, because I actually think it has.
But over the last wee while, I have begun to feel a sense of frustration with Flickr. I want serious critique on my images, and although I love and appreciate all the wonderful comments (who doesn't!), I am looking for a different outlet for my photography. I need to learn from what is wrong with my photos as much as from what is right with them.
So I've started to do a few things in that direction:
1. In October, I bought a digital SLR - a Canon 350D. It's a huge leap from the Powershot that I was using, and took me quite a while to make the transition. But now that I have I would not go back. I've also begun shooting only with manual settings, rather than auto. Forcing myself to have to set exposure and aperture has slowed me down, and has been a huge learning curve, but ultimately it is a step in the right direction. That stuff just needs to become second nature to me.
2. I started a photography course in January. The two instructors are wonderful and very experienced photographers. I am completely in awe and a bit frightened by how little I know.
Mostly we have had to shoot in film with a manual SLR. I've been using a Nikon FM-10. I am completely out of my depth and my comfort zone, and it's great.
I am learning.
3. I am going to start a photoblog. I've talked about this before, but this time I'm going to do it. I have a domain name already, I've had it for a couple years now but just haven't used it.
I want a photoblog so I can can display images the way that I want, in large size. It will be a portfolio of sorts. I still haven't worked out exactly what it will be, but it will not be a journal, and it will not be Flickr.
I also have this fledgling thought that I might sell a few prints.
4. In August I'm doing the advanced photography course... working to put together a real portfolio.
I'm hoping that one day I might even be good enough to have an exhibition. But I know I have a long way to go. As one of my instructors said, "Digital has completely raised the bar. Now, it's relatively easy to be good. To stand out above the rest, you really have to do something special."
So that, my friends, is my real goal in photography: to consistently do something special.