efficiency vs multi-tasking (or, the decline of a photographer)

70X/365: something new
My Photography has suffered lately. I’m not complaining really. I’m just taking stock, stating facts, and reorganizing as I so often do to make room in life for, well, life.

“Pretend you live for a living.”

–Buddy Wakefield

Flickr’s Navel Gazing Society (otherwise known as Explore) is certainly no measure of greatness. Neither that of a photograph, nor that of the life of a photographer. But accepting it as an indicator I present the following:

I had 46 photos hit explore from 4/5/2005 until 11/23/2007.  That’s 18 per year.

My daughter was born in 12/2007.

I had 14 photos hit explore from 11/23/2207 until 12/13/2008. That’s 13 per year. A pretty steep drop from before, but still one a month. A baby does that to you and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

My wife left in 01/2009. After a few months of depression I was left refreshed, ready to take on the world, and with a young child under my care for roughly 75% of my previously “free” time.

I had 0 photos hit explore from 12/13/2008 until now. That’s 0 per year.

Again, I’m not complaining. I’m just trying to work it out in my head.

You see, the thing is, I’m very efficient, yet terrible at multi-tasking. Let me do one thing at a time and I’ll do it quickly and very well. Make me do two things at once and I’ll more than likely fail at both of them. Caring for a child takes at least some portion of my attention almost all of the time.

I don’t have time to take the photos I used to. It’s not that I don’t have time to hold a camera point it at things and release the shutter. Many would argue that a child makes a beautiful interesting photographic subject. And, despite always carrying far too many things, keeping a camera (or three) on me at all times is something I’m quite good at. I take plenty of photos. But photography is about more than just pressing a button. It’s about seeking out the light. It’s about waiting for the perfect moment. Looking for light and waiting for a photo are two things incredibly hard to do with a young child. They don’t like to sit still. And, doing so while watching a child is multi-tasking. So, I’m terrible at it.

I also don’t have time to edit. Editing photos is a two part process. First, we throw away the junk. Then, we make the good stuff look better. This takes time. Lots of it. Sitting in front of a computer isn’t something a young child enjoys, unless they enjoy it so much that they want to help, at which point, you’re not getting the job done at all. The good news is, I can do this when she’s asleep. The bad news is, that’s the only time I have to do lots of other things as well.

Finally, I don’t have time to promote. I used to spend a lot of time viewing photos, commenting on photos, discussing photos, and sharing photos. I have all but stopped doing any of these things.

So, now to the important part. How can I get back some of what I had without losing the wonderful things I have now? Because I can’t multi-task, I have to find ways to make what I do more efficient and to find ways to allow me to juggle tasks better.

Of course, just because you’re not me or not in this same situation doesn’t mean that these tips won’t make you more efficient too.

1) Take fewer photos

With film, releasing the shutter on your camera was a commitment to spending both time and money in order to actually see the image. Photographers acknowledged this and very few were willing to release the shutter until they were sure they had it right. When digital came along the mentality shifted: it’s just digital. Click away! Sort them out later!

In theory, if you’re looking for a certain shot taking as many as possible helps ensure you get the right one. In practice, if one of them is terrible, the rest probably will be too. Multiple shots approaching with different ideas and at multiple angles is one thing and certainly a good idea. But taking photographs just in case they might be good amounts to nothing but waste.

By spending more time looking and less time clicking, I might be more likely to anticipate a shot. And having fewer photos will drastically reduce the amount of time I spend in Phase 1 of editing, and somewhat reduce the time I spend in Phase 2.

2) Bring a Photo Friend

Bringing along a photographically inclined friend, particularly one with similar distractions (i.e. children, in my case) leaves us both with the ability to explore an idea more closely. As something strikes me as worthy of further examination, being able to trust my child in the other person’s hands as I explore an idea more fully will let me free my mind completely for the task. And my friend gets the same benefit. Additionally, as children often become the subjects of photographs, it allows one of us to photograph while the other helps adjust and collect the children.

3) Involve the Children

This is only a small break, but every little bit counts. But sending the children seeking for the elements you’re looking for in your photo, their minds focus a bit more and it makes them easier to monitor. Kids are great at looking for shadows, sticks, flowers, trees, letters, numbers, and things like this. Just don’t ask them to look for soft lighting on the side of a fire hydrant with minimal background distraction. Or, at least wait until they are 12 or so.

Involving them in the 1st phase of editing (and parts of the 2nd phase as well) is also a good idea. You’ll need software that allows you to rate photos quickly and with at least 3 or 4 different levels of rating (junk, keep for fun/memories, good, awesome). With this in place, children love to look at photos from an adventure they just took. Especially if there are photos of people and things they recognize. Making a habit out of unloading a photo card in the same way we unload our backpacks after an adventure will bring a child to anticipate doing so.

4) Involve Friends for Promotion

Nothing makes me want to photograph MORE than knowing that my work is enjoyed and appreciated. Promotion allows this to be fully realized. Friends can be a fantastic resource for promotion. Between Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Buzz, Blogs, and Email your friends can quickly and easily help get the word out about how wonderful a certain photos of yours is. Take the time to share with your friends and ask them to do the promotion for you.

And, if you are the friend of a photographer *cough, ahem, ME!*, share their work. Expose their art. Most social media outlets have icons you can drag to your browser toolbar to make sharing as simple as clicking a button. Here are some for Facebook, Twitter, Google Buzz, and Tumblr.

I hope this helps you with your photography. Do you have any other ideas to share that can help get better photos with a partially distracted mind?

Christmas, et al

Having a White Christmas in Texas is a mixed bag of good and bad. It’s good for all the obvious reasons (snow! Christmas! etc!) but bad because, in Texas, snow doesn’t just mean snow. It means ice, bad drivers, accidents, road closures, and travel delays and cancellations.

Christmas Eve, Celeste and I didn’t quite make it to our friends house as we had planned. Sure, I have AWD. Sure I could have made it. But after hearing reports of over 300 accident reports in Fort Worth alone, it was no longer the ice, the snow, or my vehicle that I was concerned about. It was all those other drivers. So we stayed put at my mom’s house despite the fact that everyone else had left for church/other festivities.

Christmas was awesome. Despite Celeste never taking a nap worth mentioning and having more sugar in one day than any 2 year old should be allowed in her entire second year, she did quite well. Yeah, she was cranky from time to time toward the end, but, I’m getting quite good at offsetting it.

She loved all of her gifts. The biggest hits were the play kitchen my parents got her, the piggy bank my sister got her, and the playsilks that I got her. I thought the wooden cars and trees that Santa got her would be a big hit too, but she hasn’t given them a second glance yet.

The only odd, strange, unpredictable aspect of Christmas was, once again, my parents. At some point in the not too distant past they decided that immediately following Christmas they’d be taking a vacation to Arkansas to photograph the many waterfalls of the Buffalo River, a worthwhile adventure by any account. But they decided to do so and the hell with anything else.

Celeste’s birthday is today (the 26th). It was going to be celebrated today. We were going to spend one more night at my mom’s and celebrate it over there, saving them and my sister a trip out, and ensuring that my brother would come. My mom, instead, suddenly pushed very hard to have it after dinner on Christmas evening citing that they wanted to get a head start on their vacation. So… that’s exactly what we did. Almost immediately following cake and presents we were — though never specifically stated — kicked out of the house.

It was a mad dash, without reason, to pack up all of our stuff, get it all in the car, and get out on the road. Celeste was crying. Everyone was far too busy to help with anything because they were all packing up their stuff too. I’m glad that C’s mom decided to spend Christmas afternoon with us, for all the obvious reasons of having her there for Celeste on Christmas day but also to help soothe her as everything turned to chaos.

Ideally, I’d have stayed at my mom’s a few more hours and drove back in the evening when Celeste would have slept. Would have made it easier to unload the car and I hate making her take 1 hour road trips to and from when I don’t have to.

All in all it worked out fine, of course, I just don’t particularly care for the the unexpected scramble, nor do I tolerate it very well. I kept imagining myself with a friend/partner who could say “Daniel, calm down!” in the nicest way possible to help keep me even instead of all stressed out. Yeah, I know I should be more “independent” than that, and I do okay on my own. But, I’ve always believed that the true power of a team was based in the ability to rely on each others strengths in order to help cover or improve each others weaknesses. Yes, some of you dream of being rockstars, super models, pimp daddys, and race car drivers. Not me. I just dream of being unstressed, of breathing fresh air, and of laughing as much as possible.

No Christmas recap would be complete without a list of Christmas booty (unfortunately, there was no Christmas “Bootie” to be had, but that can wait for another day). I got a shopvac from my sister, which I am very excited about. I got a netbook from my parents which will hopefully make travel with the kiddo and updating new thoughts and photos a little easier (I’m typing this on it right now). I got a pretty candle/decorative thing from my brother. Celeste loves little decorations, especially those that hold candles, so I’m sure this will be a hit. I also got a nice little pile of random stocking stuffs from that fat guy in a red suit. More than anything I’m excited about all of Celeste’s gifts and eager to see her play with them and watch her imagination create new uses for them.

Merry Christmas to you all. May you find your own life filled with many blessings during this coming year and may you offer even more blessing to those you love and care about.

Still deciding

I’ve managed to take one item off the list of possible Christmas plans and yet I’ve added another. So here it is, Christmas Eve, and I’m still making up my mind. Yeah, everything works out this way for me. It’s a curse.

I’m not going to my brothers. That amounted to the most work for the least benefit.

However, a friend (Hi, Skwid!) has offered an invitation to their Christmas festivities. There will even be another kid there and several other friends.

Staying home for Christmas Eve and Christmas Morning just doesn’t sound ideal. Several of you wrote to say that doing your own thing in your own home with your own kids is the nicest way to spend the holiday. And, in principal, I’d agree. But my situation makes that less desirable. If we only leave gifts under the tree for which there is someone present to receive it, then every gift will be for Celeste, either from me, from a few long distance family members, or from some fat guy in a red coat and silly hat. There are no other kids here. There are no other adults here. And Celeste isn’t old enough to have made or bought me anything on her own. Anyone else that could have helped her do so didn’t. Or at least, if they did, I don’t know about it and the gift isn’t here to open. While I’m a big fan of making our own traditions and having our own little life, I don’t ever want Christmas to amount to a tower of gifts in front of a child and nothing more. Because, to me, that’s not what Christmas is about at all.

To me Christmas is supposed to be about family (chosen and inherited), friendship, and togetherness. It’s supposed to be about giving, and sharing, and believing. It’s supposed to be about hope, and rebirth. The best way to make that happen is to spend it with people that care about us and that want us around.

My parents (well, my dad anyway. my mom still isn’t talking to me) have said, “come whenever you want”. And while that may seem ideal and certainly is from a “cram the most into two days as possible” standpoint, I want to feel wanted. That doesn’t make me feel wanted. Christmas in the past has always been at my parent’s and it has always been mandatory. There was simply no doubt about where everyone was going to be on Christmas day. If you had other stuff going on, that was fine, but you’d better show up and you’d better be there a lot. I liked it that way. Between me spending every other Christmas in Canada with my ex-wife, my older brother moving to Vermont, my sister desiring to have Christmas in her new home the year she bought it, and my brother having to share his kid with his ex-wife on the holidays, the ritual was strained. It could have lasted anyway. Because it was NEVER about WHERE we met, only about who we were meeting with and why. But, all of that fell through the cracks.

I put a lot of importance on ritual: with family and friends, in our day to day lives, and in my own spirituality. This is part of what makes living my life so special to me but also what makes it so difficult from time to time. If I didn’t, then these days would just be ordinary days like any other day and it wouldn’t matter nearly as much what we did or who we saw or whether everything worked out in an ideal fashion. I give Celeste gifts all the time. And we spend time with people all the time. And we spend many, many, many days and nights home together alone. And these days should be no different. Except they are.

So, all of this means that spending time with friends on Christmas Eve is really the best possible option. Friends that have gone out of their way to make sure that we know we’re invited and very welcome. It is, sadly, also the most difficult. Since I’d rather not have Celeste wake up in our empty house on Christmas morning this means that I’d have to drive out to my parent’s house late that night after Christmas Eve festivities, get our room ready for sleeping, put a toddler to bed, unpack a car full of gifts, and then get myself settled in. Or, go to my parent’s house earlier, set everything up, then head out for a lovely Christmas Eve, then head back.

So, in the midst of this pile of wrapping paper and ribbon and tape and too many cups of tea, I’m trying to figure out a plan of action that’s actually going to work, involve the least amount of driving, leave me with the least amount of stress and, most of all, let Celeste have the best possible time.

it must be Christmas

I can tell it’s Christmas by the sounds of arguing from within my family. It happens every year. There’s always something to go wrong. This year I guess it’s my fault. Or rather, I’m the one with the problem. I want to spend Christmas with my family: inherited and chosen. This isn’t completely possible, of course, because so many people have so many plans. But, at least I try. And that’s what I’m doing: trying to get as many people in one place as possible.

This is the first Christmas Celeste will really remember. I’m trying to make it really nice for her and it seems like my family is doing everything they can to combat that.

For starters, I flat out told my mom that I hadn’t completely decided how I was going to do the “Santa” story with Celeste but that, whatever it was, her mom and I would work it out together so that we had the same idea. So, the next time my mom got Celeste alone, she told her only two things about Christmas: 1) Santa says “HO HO HO” and 2) Santa brings you new toys. Skip over the spirit of giving, all of the fun folk lore, the idea that Santa brings every kid toys, and just focus on the worst aspect of it all: “Santa brings new toys”.

But that’s just an annoyance more than anything. My mom has also decided she’s not speaking to me. Or, rather, speaking to me as little as possible so as to not seem like she’s doing the whole “I’m not talking to you” thing. On top of that, my mom and my brother live 15 minutes from each other. Of all of us, they live the closest. Yet they are the two deciding to be stubborn and unwilling to leave their own houses Christmas morning or Christmas eve. So, no matter what, I can have one or the other, but not both, even though neither of them have anyone else coming over unless Celeste and I show up. I really wanted Celeste to enjoy Christmas with family around, including her cousin and her grandparents. But, my family is making it difficult.

These are my options, I think:

1) Spend Christmas Eve/Morning at my brother’s house. His son will be gone from 5pm to 9pm on Christmas Eve which means it’ll just be Celeste and him and I for a big chunk of the evening. Then, when his son gets home, we can leave out some cookies and such and then do the whole Christmas thing in the morning. Then, we’d go to my mom’s house and he’d go do a few other things and eventually show up there himself.

2) Spend Christmas Eve/Morning at my mom’s house. My sister won’t be there for Christmas Eve. And my mom isn’t talking to me. So, it’d basically just be Celeste and my Dad and I. Then in the morning my sister would be there. And then, later still in the morning, my brother would show up. This is slightly better because Celeste will have grandparents and an aunt and uncle there, but slightly worse because she won’t have any other kids to enjoy it with.

3) Spend Christmas Eve at our house and show up to my mom’s house on Christmas Day when my brother does. This is slightly better because we can have our own traditions and our own house and I can really make it special for Celeste in whatever way I believe to be best. But this is a lot worse because it’ll just be her and I for most of it and I really want to to be about togetherness.

I know I’m making this into more than it needs to be. It just frustrates me, that’s all. I think, more than anything, I hate having to beg people to spend time with me, and hate even more to have to beg people to spend time with my daughter, and yet that’s exactly what I feel like I’m doing.

too nice to stay inside

Celeste under monkey bars

Celeste under monkey bars

It’s such a beautiful day out today.

I have a lot to do to get ready for our trip anda messy house to clean.

I should pick up C from school, take up both straight home, make a quick dinner, and get to the cleaning and packing.

But, at the same time, it seems really unfair to keep either of us couped up inside when the weather is so nice.

So… I think we’ll just enjoy the weather, eat out some place reasonable, and deal with the packing once the sun goes down.

The path of happiness is always the right path to take.

What do you do when the weather is so nice?

I survived the Texas State Fair

This weekend was packed with fun, the highlight of which was the Texas State Fair on Saturday evening.

waiting for the train

I’m not a big “Fair” person. It’s not that I don’t like it. I can just usually find just as much fun doing my own thing in a less crowded space for less money. And if I bring a few people along with me, it’s just as good if not better. I guess I’m simple that way. But I really thought that Celeste would enjoy the fair, so I wanted to bring her. And Bonnie and Justin wanted to go too, which made it that much more fun.

We stepped on the DART Red Line at Parker Station at about 3pm. And we didn’t step back off until 10pm. Celeste loved every second of it, from the petting zoo, to the Ferris Wheel, to the Corny Dogs.

I had a bout of dad-fail on the way there. I packed two diapers into our backpack knowing I’d grab 6 or 8 more out of the car and then promptly forgot to do so. It wasn’t until we were well on our way on the train that I remembered. We stopped off at Lovers station to buy diapers. Of course a 27 pack was the smallest I could find so I left most of them on top of the trashcan at the train station. Of course, the two diapers I had brought would have been just enough. Oh well. Even worse, the next day I was cleaning out my backpack and realized I’d bought size 5s instead of size 4s. It’s not that I don’t know what size she wears. I’ve been the only one buying her diapers for 8 months now. I have no idea why I bought 5s but I looked for them on purpose. I can remember telling Bonnie “size 5″.

Texas Star

Texas Star

I was a bit frightened in the Ferris Wheel. Heights are heights and I am afraid of them in general. But I know how to overcome that fear fairly well when required. But having Celeste there made it more difficult. I would have been okay if not for the space behind the seats large enough for her to fit through and plummet to her death and her constant desire to climb them. None the less, we all made it out without learning how to fly and I only had to get stern with Celeste once, which I hated doing. I felt like one of those mean parents that are always yelling at their kids for silly things. I wonder if this is how is starts.

She loved it though. She pointed out the hundreds of red and green lights she could see down the street and continued to mention that she went “up in the sky”.

As usual, there was lots of strange food at the fair. I’m not really that eager to try lots of odd foods just for the sake of it. But, for some reason, fried butter just HAD to be tried. So I did. I’m still not sure if I liked it or not. It tasted great. Very buttery, of course. And the batter was delicious. But, at the same time, it was just too much butter.

Celeste loved it when I walked around with her up on my shoulders so she could see everything. This isn’t a posture she usually likes so those muscles on me are pretty weak. Every time I’d take a break she’s grab my face and turn it toward her (something she does in crowded or loud places to make sure you are paying attention to her) and would say “more up on the shoulders!!”.

The Little Pigs

The Little Pigs

The petting zoo was fun for her too. The moment she remembers best was the baby pigs. If you ask her about it, even now, shell tell you how there were lots of baby pigs, and a momma pig, and how all the baby pigs were drinking milk. She stared in awe for a long time. She also fed an Emu, pet a Donkey, and mimicked the bleat of a goat. She tried to feed a goat, one grain of food at a time. But the goat decided she was just too slow, took the food from her hands and ate everything, paper cup and all. Celeste thought this was hilarious.

On top of all of that, we saw briefly saw the car show, Big Tex, and the water fountains. Of course, the DART ride itself was an adventure as well, which Celeste loved. It took her a bit to get used to being in the train. Since we got on at the first stop there was time to get her acquainted with how it worked, walking on it, getting on and off it, etc. Once I did that, she was fine with it and eventually took to staring out the window, pointing at everything, and jumping up and down in her seat.

sun set from 212 feet

sun set from 212 feet

The only disappointment was DART on our trip back. On the way there the trains were not crowded and there were people directing you to the right location everywhere you turned. I don’t require this but it was nice to have. On the way back there was no one around and the information we sought out was incorrect. Additionally, there were not enough trains running which meant that we all waited longer than we should have and ended up on a VERY full train. Celeste and I stood for all of the first 12 or 13 stops. It was at the 3rd to last stop that there was finally room for both of us to sit. I didn’t mind standing so much. And despite being exhausted, Celeste didn’t seem to mind too much either. Lots of people offered us their seat, but I knew Celeste wanted the window and would only be upset if we got a seat but she couldn’t stand in the window and look out, so I declined when the offered. Lots of people commented on how good Celeste was being and at how smart she is. I have an awesome kid.

All told, the Texas State Fair was an awesome experience and I’m glad I decided to take Celeste.

slowly twisting in the wind

with each new shade

I see you there

  • There is a certain peace that comes with the understanding that something I was afraid to try wouldn’t have worked out anyway. With the sadness of loss comes the satisfaction of knowing.
  • I’m taking Celeste to the Texas State Fair this weekend. If I go on Friday it’ll be a mad dash to pick her up from school and get out there and I’ll probably drive and park and all of that. But if I go on Saturdaythe DART Light Rail now has a Green Line that runs to Fair Park. I’m thinking about parking in Plano and taking the Light Rail down. Maybe stopping for a late lunch at Mockingbird Station along the way.
  • Celeste hasn’t slept well for many nights. I know she has a sinus and ear infection, probably due to the change in weather, her teeth coming in, or both. I prefer not to give her Antibiotics every time she gets an infection but if this lasts much longer I’m going to take her in.
  • As a way of increasing myaerobicactivity andneutralizingthe negative effects of electronic sedation without having to totally cut myself off, I’m in the market for a stationary bike, elliptical, or otheraerobicexercise machine. I’d prefer to get myexerciseunder the big blue sky or a blanket of stars. But, often the only time I can find for it is once Celeste is asleep at which point leaving the house isn’t an option.
  • At some point in the past this site changed from a technical blog about web development and gadgets to a photo blog (which has moved). It has since changed again to become a blog about parenting, health, clean food, and life. I’m finally okay with that.
  • I’m finally starting to accept Kyro’s advice: I’ve lived a lot and experienced many things. Talking to a girl I don’t know shouldn’t be difficult. Even if I happen to have a baby on my hip.
  • My In-Laws will more than likely be visiting Celeste during our trip to NY/VT. I am strangely okay with this. During my marriage to Jess I lived in great fear of their disapproval. This no longer plagues me. I see them simply as a set of people wishing to share Celeste’s life. They are good people, they bring a positive influence to Celeste, and there’s no way that’s a bad thing.
  • I overspent in the past month. Which really isn’t a good thing to do before a vacation since I’ll likely overspend then too. So I’ve got myself on lockdown for now.
  • I need to find someone to care for my kitties while Celeste and I are in the Northeast. I hate asking for favors.
  • Tonight is my first Tuesday without Celeste on the new schedule. I’ve got a light dinner, cleaning, web site editing, and photography on the slate all in small, undefined portions.
  • I think my new glasses were made wrong. They hurt my eyes. A lot. So I have to go get them looked at today. If there is something wrong with them, hopefully they can get them fixed before I leave for the Northeast. If not, I’ll be wearing contacts and my old glasses. I have a picture of them, but I’d rather not put it here. Let me know if you want to see. Don’t worry, I’m fully clothed. ;)

what I want

A few years ago spending time with people that mattered to me and respected me was the most important thing in my life. That hasn’t changed. That still is what is most important. We are, after all, very social animals. Being social makes us happy. And, as I’ve said before, success is happiness.

But the people that I find myself surrounded by continues to change. As the core of my group grows and shrinks and mutates, those that support that core fluctuate as well. While staying out until 3am drinking and laughing and smoking and doing silly things that I should regret the next day but probably wont still sounds like a REALLY GOOD TIME, it just doesn’t happen. Not because of lack of opportunity and not because of lack of desire. There are merely more important things. No matter how drunk I get, no matter how loud I sing, no matter who I accidentally make out with, I wouldn’t trade the smile on my daughter’s face, and an early morning walk with her for it. No way.

But this isn’t about Celeste. I mean it is, but it isn’t. Because I wouldn’t trade a happy smile and a nice morning walk with anyone I care about for a night of carelessness and lack of inhibitions. For me, an intimate moment with someone I care about has always been more important. Now, if I can have both, then I’ll take it.

This isn’t a holier than thou thing. There’s nothing wrong with preferring the super-social acts of silliness and debauchery over a quiet, happy, peaceful moment. Everyone is built differently. I’m not knocking those of you who would prefer to stay out late and party. In fact, if I can find a way to get what I want most and join you too, then I will.

Getting married, or finding a significant other, or having a child, or moving within walking distance of your closest friends changes things for people like me. It isn’t because I’ve changed who I am. And it isn’t because the event or other person changes me. It is, instead, because with that change comes that which I seek the most. And, in having it, I choose it over and over again.

So that’s where I am. That’s where I’ve always been. I seek intimacy and closeness. I seek it in all of it’s forms. I seek it as often as I can have it. And I seek it in ways that allow me to have even more of it, instead of in ways that would limit me from finding it. Often that means being around people with the same priority pattern because it just works out that way. But it doesn’t have to.

I still like being super-social and wild too. Believe me, I’ve still got it in me. And if I can find a way to do both, I will. And if being super-social is on the top if your list, but an intimate, close moment with a good friend sounds enjoyable too, then maybe we can work it out to where we both get what we want.

I’m learning that anything is possible. ANYTHING.

first train home, I’ve got to get on it

finer details

finer details

It’s saddening and maddening to realize that, these days, nearly every frustration I face is merely a byproduct of a time and work based society without control over our own timeline. Our ancestors did not face these stresses. At one point did we become so dependent on progress that we failed to realize that what we have now is worth living.?

My three step manifesto is going well. I had one failure with #3, but I’ve since course corrected.

C’s mom and I have a new schedule we’re trying with her in the hopes of offering both her and us some more stability. So with the exception of one day a week (Tuesday) and the weekends (which are always wildcards whether I get to spend time with my daughter or not) my days with and without her are now set and are the same every week. I’m slowly picking out what’s going to work best for us. I think that Sunday nights, the only “school night” on which I never have Celeste, will be reserved for me-time. So I’ll put no requirement whatsoever on myself to keep with with any obligations outside of the bare minimum. And I think I’ll reserve Tuesday, the only alternating “school night” for larger projects at home — crafts, cleaning, shampoo making, etc. It’ll make it easier for me to have a set day to postpone larger jobs to in order to help me forget about them and enjoy the rest of the week. And for really large jobs that Celeste can’t help with, I’m only ever, at most, two weeks away. Otherwise they consume me.

This new schedule isn’t the best ever. But it’s certainly a big step in the right direction. As has always been the case with changes like this, I’m now struggling with figuring out how I’m going to manage it all and still put in the time required of me at work. One day at a time, I’m getting out of this.

If I didn’t have the back and forth with Celeste to adhere to, I really think we’d be better off and far happier in a tiny little town with enough land to keep a few chickens, a few goats, and a small garden. Especially if I could find a like minded person or two to share the work load with. Ideally, I’d have a big enough property to put 4 or 5 small houses on with some interesting common areas.

Panic is setting in about our trip to New York / Vermont. Not so much that I won’t be able to make it, but that I won’t be able to live up to the expectations that others are no doubt placing on this trip. I, for instance, have things I’d like to do that have nothing to do with any of my family there. They can come, of course, but it’s more for Celeste and I. I’m worried that our “schedule” will be too much for others to handle. I’ve already gotten two cases of stress. The first was me telling my mom that I was going straight to my grandmothers when we got off the plane. I asked her if she could have dinner for us so that we could see her sooner (knowing she’d want that) and she said that we were getting in too late for her to eat. So then I told her that we’d stop somewhere on the way in and go straight to my grandmas to unpack, say hello, bathe, and get to bed, to which she objected because she wants to see us right away. After I agreed to stop at her place and pick her up for an hour or so and then bring her home, she objected because she wanted to stay at my grandma’s until Celeste went to bed, not realizing how late that might be and not understanding that, once Celeste goes to sleep I won’t be able to leave until she wakes up again.

Ugh. I think I should stop being soprolific. I don’t think anyone actually reads all of this anyway.

Dreaming of Alligators

snap snap

snap snap

Last night I had a disturbing dream. This always seems to happen when I can’t find a way to get comfortable in bed.

I was talking on the phone with Emily. Celeste and I had just been some place and Emily was mentioning that there was another place near where we were that served tea that might be fun to visit with the kids one day. So, Celeste and I were taking a walk though a small park that joined the two in order to go check it out.

As I walked through the park I was holding Celeste in one arm and still talking to Emily. I looked over through some trees to the right at a pond and saw an Alligator there, just coming out of the water. Before I could run he snapped at us catching Celeste’s left leg in his jaws just below the knee.

Here’s where it gets even stranger. The alligator didn’t bite all the way through. In fact, if he would just open his mouth she would more than likely have nothing more than a few puncture wounds that would heal quickly. So I was holding Celeste with an Alligator attached to her leg and had a choice to make. I could kick at him, maybe getting him to let go, or maybe pissing him off so much that he attacks us again, this time, no doubt, much worse. I could pull Celeste out of his mouth, more than likely leaving her leg seriously damaged and then run like hell. Or I could just wait to see what he does next, hoping that he opens his mouth and leaves us alone.

This scenario is how I see almost every difficult choice I have to make. And similar choices are currently at the forefront of my mind.

In my dream, the last part of it, from the bite onward, continued to repeat itself. Each time I’d try something a little bit different. The outcome was never good. In one scenario, we managed to break free from the Alligator only to find his friend waiting a few seconds down the path. However, in my dream, waiting it out was never attempted. Trusting the Alligator was simply not an option.