This semester, I’m taking a photography class. It’s one that’s required for all art majors. I took it this semester because over the summer, I had a class with some photography majors, and they told me that UVU was switching the Photography I from a film class to a digital class. I wanted to take film photography, because I knew I could borrow Dad’s fancy film camera, but my little digital camera probably wouldn’t work for the class. The course catalogue for this semester listed Photography I as a film class, but on the first day I learned that the switch had already happened.
Drama ensued. I can’t afford a new camera, and doing research on the dSLR camera‘s I could afford I discovered that they shot in a lower resolution than the camera I already have. So I hunkered down with the instruction manual, and the syllabus, and discovered that my Canon Powershot SX100is would probably work–I emailed my instructor and she agreed, though she was concerned when she actually saw the little thing.
Anyway, my class is on Saturday. Which I actually think works, because it gives me the rest of the week to do the assignments. It’s hard going to school six days a week, but I’ll get though.
The assignment for this week was color–simply to take two colorful photos that would work well together. Of course, no photographer worth her salt would stop at just two, so here are my favorites:
These next two I almost turned in–in fact, I had turned them in, but we had a break before we got to my review, so I changed my mind, and substituted another pair. I think they’re well done, but they’re not my aesthetic, and I didn’t want to put them in my portfolio at the end of class.
So as far as color goes, I think I did well. Next week, we’re talking about composition, and taking a photography field trip around campus
Things have been rough since the semester started this week. Between the stress that comes from new classes, campus going from the ghost town it was over the summer to downtown Mumbai, coupled with some minor health concerns, life has not been fun. And the beast that is depression has reared it’s ugly head, and is determined to take it’s share.
I have an appointment to see a therapist on Wednesday, and I think I’m going to ask for some anti-depressants. I’ve noticed that I’ve been getting really angry and pissy lately–between the times when I just want to sit down and cry. I’ve been off my meds for more than a year, but I think I need something to lift me up emotionally for the time being.
To that end, last night I asked my Facebook friends to share with me what makes them happy. I did ask that they not talk about their children because, well, that biological clock is ticking pretty loudly, and hearing how other people’s kids make them happy makes it worse. I love the responses I got:
being with people
Dr Pepper (twice! I dislike Dr Pepper’s aftertaste, so I’m going to chalk this down as “a sweet treat”)
watching a favorite movie for the millionth time
reading a favorite book for a millionth time
exercising (’cause of the ice cream and Dr Pepper, I guess)
being in nature
going to the library
laughing so hard you cry
sticking your hand out the car window on a nice day
the stained glass window at the Orem Library:
(which I have to admit, I’ve never really paid attention to–this window is in the children’s book section, and when I go to the library, I’m headed off to non-fiction than the fiction section. I’ve glanced at the window, but next time I go to the library, I’ll be sure to go look at it)
Life is always better in the light of morning so I added my list:
that moment that something I’m making–be it a painting or some baking or a story or a blog post–begins to come together and I know it’s going to be awesome.
re-reading a good book
reading a good book for the first time
little dogs waiting to greet me when I come home
hummingbirds fighting at the feeder
waking up because your body tells you to, not because your alarm clock tells you to.
And of course, wonderful family and friends.
So, if you were to add to this list, what would you say? What always cheers you up? I was amazed at how therapeutic just coming up with a list was. I’d love to hear in the comments what makes you happy, but if you don’t want to share with the world, come up with one for yourself.
Yesterday was remarkable.
The fact that yesterday was so amazing leaves me with an interesting conundrum–I’ve been trying all day to organize my thoughts and feelings about what I experiences in a way that feels not preachy and interesting. The problem with these life-changing revelations is that they tend to apply only to the life of the person who experienced it.
So, yesterday, my local NPR station broadcast an extraordinary interview with a man who is both openly gay, and a faithful member–and employee of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You can hear it here. This interview led me to Wilcox’s pet project–beyond the film discussed in the interview–The Empathy First Initiative. The EFI Facebook page had this video of a TEDtalk linked to it.
First off–why had no one told me about TED? It’s amazing.
Second, I realize I just linked an hour and twenty minutes of media that, while I found utterly fascinating and life changing, others may not. What follows is what I found apropos, if you don’t want to watch and listen to those links. Or, even if you do.
So, here’s how I understood all of this. In Randall Wilcox’s discussion on what it means to be a gay Mormon, he talked about embracing his whole self. When he accepted who and what he was, he became more spiritual–contrary to what Orthodox Mormons tend to believe about homosexuality, and what it means to be gay.
The other thing Wilcox discusses beautifully is empathy. Rather than looking at a person as an object–oh, he’s gay, or she’s a democrat, or their poor–he encourages us to look beyond, to see the person who has thoughts and feelings and ideas. To not dismiss someone as an abomination or a bigot, for instance, but to try to understand their thought process and the life-experiences that led them to those conclusions.
Brene Brown’s talk is on similar lines, in that she discusses empathy as well. But what stood out to me in her talk was the notion that when we numb the negative in our lives–the pain, the depression, the vulnerabilities–we numb everything. I think I’d subconsciously come to the same conclusion, at least in regards to my depression. When I started to open up about the fact that I am depressed, and stopped pretending that everything was fine, I started to feel better.
Brown also talks about vulnerabilities–we are all vulnerable. Everybody has something that makes them vulnerable, but it’s the people who embrace their vulnerabilities who thrive, who can love and be loved, while those who try to hide their vulnerabilities struggle, blame others, and spend their lives searching for meaning.
This makes perfect sense, and it’s something that I’ve begun to put into practice. I’ve been dredging up those deep, dark places within my soul and mind, examining everything and–and I think this is the important bit–not reburying those imperfections that make me vulnerable. I’ve realized that all the self-destructive things that I do are because I feel vulnerable, and I’m trying to either hide the vulnerability, or the shame that comes from being vulnerable.
But, by embracing who I am, the dark scary parts and all, I can become a better person, one who has the capacity to love herself, and by extension, others. I feel like I’m taking the first steps on an important journey.
Now, I do understand that this is all shiny and new, and in a couple of months, the shine will probably have worn off–this post is as much a reminder to me as anything. By getting the words down, it cements the way I’m thinking or feeling. I also know that it might be too much to ask that these few words might help someone else. And you know what? I’m okay with that. Right now, me becoming a better person is all I can ask for.
I’m in the midst of a two-week break between semesters. Besides waiting less-than patiently for my summer semester grades to be posted (I’m really only worried about my Math class, I’m pretty sure that I didn’t get lower than a “B” in any of the other classes), I’ve been trying to find things to do to keep from being bored–how in the world did I manage two and a half months as a kid?
Anyway, given my sudden influx of all sorts of time, I’ve had a craving to get my watercolors out. The problem is, I’ve let my sketching taper off, and I didn’t have a clear inspiration for a painting.
To that end, I went to Temple Square in Salt Lake City yesterday. And, because I can’t visit Salt Lake without bugging Sis, I dragged her, G and E along with me.
It’s been a while since I’ve been to Temple Square–and I have to say, going on a Tuesday afternoon in the summer is a much more pleasant than going at Christmas Time. I’m a cold weather kind of gal, but I’ll take 90’s and no crowds to 20’s and loaded with tourists.
The original idea was to do some sketching there, but I threw my camera in my purse as an afterthought. Which, had I been thinking, I would have just taken the camera–there was no way that I could have expected a 5-year-old and a 18 month old to wait patiently while I sketched. It was hard enough getting them to wait patiently while I took pictures.
I was more interested in the gardens than the architecture, but still:
Now, onto the gardens:
Hostas, or any plant with gorgeous greenery, really, make me think of an allegory once told me. I was taking a religion class, and my instructor was talking about having bought her first house, and putting in a garden. Her mother had suggested only plants that produced flowers or fruits, and getting rid of everything else. The point was we should fill our lives with productive things. In my literal-minded view of the world, I stopped listening to the lesson, and instead thought about all the beautiful, useful plants my instructor would miss out on if she took this advice. Like hostas. I came to the conclusion that it was a bad allegory.
And yes, hostas are technically a flowering plant, but you plant them for the beautiful leaves, not the rather lackluster flowers.
So, I’ve got plenty of inspiration, and for a handful of change for a parking meter, I had a fun outing with my sister and nephews. I think when you live close to monuments like Temple Square, it’s easy to take them for granted.
At least, I realized on the way home that I probably should have just gone to the public garden by my house for inspiration.
In other news, I’ve opened up an Etsy shop. You can find it here. Right now, I just have dog toys for sale, but hopefully, I’ll be able to expand into more artistic territories. I’ve even already made a sale–a feat made less impressive considering the buyer is my cousin and one of my product testers. (Thanks, Sarah!) Anyway, check it out.
So, first of all, I’d like to fully acknowledge the irony that I’ve been neglecting my blog because of all the work that has been required from my creative writing class.
The good news is, I’ve learned a lot about myself as a writer. For instance, I’ve discovered that I like to write creative non-fiction, which should be good news if I continue with this blogging thing. I’ve also discovered that I have a hard time with plot, especially when it comes to endings. Which is probably why I struggle with fiction. And probably the most important thing, I’ve discovered that when I’m hashing out an idea in my head, I need to sit down with a notebook and paper. The computer is great for the actual writing process, but, let’s face it, it’s a giant box of distraction. If I can find a quiet corner, and organize my thoughts before I sit down to the computer, my writing will be, well, written. And I’m not going to be distracted by Wikipedia or TVtropes or my favorite blogs.
So, anyway, I’ve put a few of my stories from this class in the “Stories” tab. But here they are in link form, for your convince.
The assignment for this story was to write in someone else’s voice. I was thinking of Mom when I wrote it; it’s her story after all. I don’t know how well I succeeded in separating my voice from hers. And yes, Mom, I know I didn’t get all of the details right. It was for a creative writing class. I was writing creatively.
This assignment was to write about what my character does for a living. This exact incident never happened, but I was influenced by my time working at PetSmart.
This was simply an assignment to write a piece of fiction. The first line was one chosen from a list–and I have to say, it kinda feels like I shoehorned the story to fit.
Also, I don’t know anything about fishing. But, my narrator doesn’t, either, so I suppose it all works out.
Hmm, that doesn’t seem like a lot for the amount of work I’ve done for my class, but, at the same time, it’s not everything. There’s stuff I’ve written that I absolutely hate and am not sharing with anyone I don’t have to. Also, there are stories that I’m working on revising for my final project that will go up, well, after the final. But for now, just know that I haven’t forgotten about you!
Okay, I’m a little late, what with the spending the weekend at my parents house, with additional visitors, (I love you all, but still, ugh), trying to convince a little dog that the world isn’t going to end just because there’s thunder and/or fireworks (ugh. Also: July is a tough month for Lulu), trying to do five days worth of homework in a day and a half (see: spending the weekend with family and friends. Also, ugh) and my washing machine breaking. (expletives considerably stronger than ugh. At least things didn’t flood) So, I hope both of my American readers had a better holiday weekend than I did, and I hope that the one outside the US simply had a good weekend–you know, because it’s Wednesday now…
This is from an advertisement for a local grocery store. I’m choosing to believe that whoever put this ad together knew full well what random quotes do to a phrase, and truly meant those quotation marks around “safe” and “sane”.
After all, “safe” and “sane” fireworks are the best kind, right?
Please, tell me. I don’t remember–I’ve spent the last three Fourth of July’s trying with various degrees of success to peel a nervous little dog from off my face.