Curiouser & Curiouser

Life’s short. Get curious.

On the Irksome Nature of 3-D Posters February 27, 2010

Filed under: happiness,life,thoughts — curiouserx2 @ 7:05 pm
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So I’m the poorest I’ve been in a very long time – so what? I’m not sunk yet, and somehow I just keep floating. And if I try very hard, I can remember when times were even worse. Times when I washed my clothes in the bathtub for lack of laundromat quarters, times when I cut my own hair and sold my CD’s and clothes (and almost my plasma – I finally got up the courage to try it and the clinic was closed that day. I took that as a sign). Days on end of eating the same three things in varying order (oatmeal, pasta, and $1.99 frozen entrees). I’ve not been reduced to any of that yet, so it can’t be all that bad, can it?

The restaurant has opened (softly, not grandly – they’re waiting a week or two to get the kinks out), but the money’s not rolling in just yet. So I’m biding my time and biting my nails, putting my faith in a fantastic concept and putting off certain bills as long as possible.

And how to not only avoid misery, but actually maintain a certain level of happiness? Joy, even?? How about kung-fu breaks in the office with Jeff, playing hide and seek with the cats (or fetch – Pip could put any retriever to shame), taking endless pictures and trying my damnedest to make them vibrant, to capture a certain joie de vivre. How about jumping on the bed and getting outdoors as the weather turns and actively seeking out the beautiful things in life that come to us absolutely free of charge the moment we arrive in this world?

For starters, anyway.

I was not always this way. You need look only a few years back into my life to discover a girl so jaded and dark and inwardly gloomy and borderline macabre you wouldn’t recognize her as me. I couldn’t pinpoint an exact moment of revelation, an event that spun me around, gave me a soft pat on the back and sent me on my way back to optimism. Instead, I think change came in the amalgamation of certain people that entered my life, certain others who departed and a conscious decision to see things in a different light. And the minute you decide you want to see the world as beautiful and full of possibilities again, it’s like someone whips a dark cloth off of it, the magician’s reveal! Turns out it was there all along.

This is not to say I never backslide. It’s like viewing one of those 3-D posters in the mall. I used to have a really hard time seeing them as well. I’d try to relax my gaze, to stare through the poster, to screw up my eyes – all to no avail. Then one day, flipping through a coffee table book a friend owned, three dolphins suddenly burst forth from the page. The reveal! Still – every time I come across these, I have to put forth some effort to make the image appear.

I don’t know if times of strife make it difficult to put in the necessary effort, or if we work against ourselves, giving in to the desire to wallow. Self-pity seems to be a natural human temptation in hard times, and also a horribly counterproductive trap. The way I see it, it’s okay to feel frustration, anger, fear and even sadness – to feel it, recognize it, understand it.  And then overcome it. Too often we let ourselves stop at the  feeling part. And you can feel yourself right into a black hole if you’re not careful.

Such a random post today! Apologies, but I’ve had quite a bit on my mind today and for the past couple of weeks and I’ve just sort of unloaded it all, created a bit of a dumping ground on the page today.

Chin up, everyone. Relax the eyes, soften the gaze – it’s all right in front of you.

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Ghost of Valentine’s Day Past February 13, 2010

Filed under: dating,guys,love,Special Occasions,thoughts — curiouserx2 @ 11:20 pm
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Cartoon by xkcd (http://www.xkcd.com)

Going through my old clip files from my days at the college paper, I came across one of my weekly columns (mine ran every Monday and was entitled “Carpe Diem, Baby” – some things never change…). This one in particular took aim at Valentine’s Day and I thought it only appropriate to share my view on this annual ritual, circa 2003 (do keep in mind that I was quite single at this point, and possibly a little harsh on my fellow females. Still – my heart was in the right place):

Monday, Febraury 3, 2003

Girls, you ought to be ashamed.

Exploiting your loved one on Valentine’s Day is not something to be proud of. And yet, as this day to end all dreadful days approaches, I see both greed and shallowness heading up its approach.

The other day I was in the kitchen doing what some might call cooking (I like “scorching” or “charring” as alternatives) when suddenly I was bombarded by Valentines Day ads on the radio. The three-minute onslaught included everything from candies to restaurants to fine jewelry.

Then later, hanging out in the dining pavilion, three girls seated at an adjacent table initiated the pre-Valentine’s Day rites for which females have become notorious. These include giddy speculations regarding the kinds of gifts and adornments that might be showered upon them this year, as well as much reminiscing about past offerings from their respective admirers: sparkly baubles, flowers, nights on the town… what more could a girl ask for?

Umm…. how about… love?

Last time I checked, Valentine’s Day was about love and expressing that love to someone special. Do we really lack so much imagination that we can’t express love without purchasing something?

Men agonize about the tradition of gift giving, unsure of how much to spend, what to spend it on and whether or not they will meet the expectations of their significant females.

Not to mention they’re held prisoner by a nasty double standard. Along with Sweetest Day (two words: card. companies.), whose date every woman seems to have etched into her brain the minute she ceases to be single, Valentine’s Day is a tango danced by the retail industry and the male population.

In a recent poll performed by the National Retail Federation, surveyors concluded that guys typically shell out four times more than their loved one. The average male will spend $158 while his other half will dig deep into her pockets for a whopping $36.

This scarcely comes as a shock. It’s more than socially acceptable for a man to foot the bill for diamonds and dinner while women wrap themselves in a bow and squeal, “Here I am!”

Yep, her we are ladies. In the 21st century, finally reaping some of the benefits of the feminist movement, and yet we’re still playing the game of “Let’s be equal when it’s fun and convenient and leave the rest to the men.”

But don’t despair for our misguided gender just yet.

There is still hope.

Valentine’s Day needs a makeunder, a chance to get back to its roots. I’m not saying we should all bust out shrines to St. Valentine plot clandestine marriages in honor of said Roman priest.

But I do propose a challenge to all couple out there to nix the gifts this year. At least the store-bought variety.

Boycott the chocolatiers and jewelry counters. Shun the retail industry, stand on their display cases and scream at the top of your lungs, “You will leach off my love no longer!”

Grab that sweetheart of yours and vow to spend some quality time together. You’ll find a little imagination can create an unforgettable day.

And if creativity is not your forte, eHow, a website promoting healthy relationships, has a few suggestions.

Guys, leaving little notes around the house or in her car is a great way to build anticipation for a special night together. Or, paint a message of love on her lawn (just be sure to use water soluble, non-toxic paint, lest your eternal love be eternally seared into her front yard).

For the ladies, try a candle-lit bedroom with a picnic for two laid out on the bed. Steer clear of both soup and fondue for this one.

Whether you get fancy or get down to basics, it’s the expression of love and wanting to be together that’s important.

So, curl up together by the fire, get lost in a three-hour conversation, or (and eHow gets takes the prize for cheese on this one) watch the sunset and promise each other your love will burn longer than the sun (you may now gag).

But seriously, this year let’s take the retail out of romance.

 

When I Grow Up February 2, 2010

Filed under: adulthood,life,thoughts — curiouserx2 @ 9:39 pm
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Still playing dress-up

When you’re 8 years old, precocious, imaginative, terrible at math but “gifted and talented,” as likely to spend your play time choreographing modern dance performances in your bedroom as videotaping your latest episode of “Tiffy and Stacey” (in which your 6-year-old brother plays endearing fashionista/valley girl Tiffy), never for one moment do you think that at the age of 28 you’ll be between waiting jobs, down to your last 25 dollars and asking your parents to help you make it through the next week or two.

No. You thought you’d be an actress on Broadway (or at least just Off-) or a movie director or a magazine editor or a creative director or an author. Or at least you knew you’d be something extraordinary. It was expected. So the moment you admit to yourself that your current situation doesn’t even amount to ordinary is both a breakthrough and a horrible concession.

The bad news is your original path was leading you away from all of the other things that are important to you (stability, comfort, family). The good news it, you don’t have to scrap it entirely. While your instinct is to admit defeat, it’s possible that your game plan just needs a serious reality check and some major alterations.

Jeff and I had a long talk the other night (the f@#$-up scene from “Away We Go” comes to mind – if you haven’t seen this movie yet, do yourself a great favor and check it out) and took a good hard look at our priorities. The next few years are going to happen very quickly, and how we handle them will impact the direction of the rest of our lives. But, you know, no pressure.

What does all of this mean? It means I can still have an affair with my Nikon, but I can’t put it on a pedestal and act as though it’s my answer to financial salvation. This is not to say I still couldn’t make a career of it someday, but I’ve been creatively experimenting since the day I graduated from college and at some point the time has come to sideline your creativity into an extracurricular activity and push yourself in a more responsible direction. I’m not prepared to take sides with the creative life if it means giving up things like – well, children. At this point we’re so broke we can’t even think about getting married.

I won’t ever be a nine-to-five, cubicle dwelling girl. I know this. But there are plenty of positions that, while I never wanted to take them seriously in the past, I can do and probably do well. I’ve spent the good part of 6 years in a restaurant. For the right establishment, I’m sure I’d make a great manager. Hell, I’m strangely good at hospitality in general and I live in a tourist town. There’s no reason I shouldn’t seriously consider these things.

No reason besides my pride. And pride can turn you into a 30-year-old waitress with a shallow bank account and never-ending credit card debt without batting a lash.

For me, for Jeff and for our future, I choose reality. It may be sobering, but it’s only dismal if you make it so.

 

Here We Go Again… January 22, 2010

Filed under: adulthood,happiness,life,photography,thoughts — curiouserx2 @ 10:06 pm
The days off aren't hurting either...

365-7 (Self-portrait while driving)

Not getting my “dream job” and quitting the hibachi has done strange and wondrous things to my life. The rapidfire sequence of these two events combined with the arrival of a beautiful piece of camera has set the gears of my mind reeling in such a random, new and intriguing direction that I can’t help but feel the most motivated and energized I’ve felt in a long time.

And frankly, I think it’s thrown Jeff for a bit of a loop, but I’ve already apologized and told him to bear with me.

Suddenly my life has been consumed by the camera, Lightroom and Flickr. By books on professional digital photography, post-production software, starting your own business. By logos and business cards, blogs and web sites. In short, I want something more than I’ve wanted something in a long time. More, quite possibly, than I wanted the job with Yelp (and if this all pans out, I’ll be thanking a certain regional manager for passing on me).

As I’ve tended in the past to throw myself into many a field of interest, I fully expected my parents, Jeff, hell – everyone I know, to be a little dubious my new foray. Surprisingly, though, my mom seemed unfazed, Jeff (after the initial shock) is on board – as much as a full-time grad student can be – and supportive and my sister’s volunteered (after some coercion) to be my next model (my portfolios admittedly thin and the next couple of months will mostly be spent fattening that puppy up).

Meanwhile, there’s a lot riding on this new job at the tapas bar. It has to be my bread and butter through all this (not only supporting me, but creating some capital as well), and I have no idea how lucrative it’s going to be.

In the meantime, though, it’s full steam ahead. Suppose I got tired of watching other people make a living doing something I told myself I loved but could never make a living at. You never know if you don’t try, and while I do plenty of wondering about what my life would be like if I’d taken the safe route, safe just never was for me. I’d like to go out someday knowing I spent my life doing what I loved.

 

In Which We Go Our Separate Ways January 7, 2010

Filed under: life,thoughts,work — curiouserx2 @ 4:05 pm
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Okay, so remember that part where I said, “I won’t be quitting my piece of shite day job any time soon?”

I’ve quit my piece of shite day job.

It certainly wasn’t calculated, but MY GOD did it feel good. Having just worked a 52-hour week and having not had a day off since I returned from vacation, I was feeling a little worn down the other morning when I came into the restaurant to find my boss (the owner) and some guy working to re-seal the marble slabs on the hibachi tables. At 11am. WHEN WE OPEN. Seems my boss had little idea of how this project might effect business (as in, every one who walked in was repulsed by the smell of the glue and walked right back out) and hadn’t thought that perhaps work of this nature should be done while the restaurant is CLOSED.

So – I certainly wasn’t going to be waiting any tables that shift. Instead I did the best I could to clean up after their mess and whilst doing so, the boss decides to go on a tirade about… well I’m not entirely sure what it was about. At any rate, he has a fabulous way of degrading, belittling and insulting his hardest workers (I DO recall clearly that at one point he told me I wasn’t worth the nine dollars an hour he pays me) and right then and there I decided to end my stint as a powerless Yes Girl. When he finished his rant by saying he wasn’t very happy with me lately, I responded that I was not very happy with him, either. That we had two very different ideas about how to run a business and how to treat a staff, and that on that note I’d have my two week’s notice for him in writing by the end of the day.

And I did.

Now I ignore him and he avoids me, and things are going a little more smoothly.

Of course this means I’m on a desperate search for a replacement day job. Never fear, though. This wouldn’t be the first time, and I’ve never failed in the past. I’ve got my stack of resumes in hand and someone always needs a great server. And now more than ever I feel the importance of creating my own future.

 

Escape Plan January 4, 2010

Filed under: life,photography,work — curiouserx2 @ 8:58 pm
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After a brief and somewhat severe tutorial on the proper way to affix tea urn nozzles (after which said nozzle continued to drip because it’s CORRODING FROM THE INSIDE AND NEEDS TO BE REPLACED), something in my overworked, under-appreciated and definitely underpaid little head snapped.

I do not belong here. (Or anywhere within a one-mile radius of here for that matter). Despite all my efforts, this restaurant is going down in flames. It’s dirty beyond my control, disorganized and run by a paranoid manic-depressive with questionable ethics.

Not to mention I’m a writer?

Oh yeah – that. Not only do I write with a vengeance, I’m a musician, a photographer – in short: a creative type. So when 2009 came to a close and the shiny new year presented itself I decided something must be done. And that doing must be taken seriously. Serendipitously, Jeff and I received a new digital SLR for Christmas and that was about as much impetus as I needed to consider pushing past my amateur status as a photographer. My college photojournalism course and the hours spent ceasing time in a darkroom instilled in me all the enchantment with the art that I needed to continue pursuing photography as a hobby. And when I lost my manual SLR in one of many moves since then, I continued to work with photographers and to critique and edit the work of others. And looking back on all of this it begs the question: so why again wouldn’t you consider this as a possible career path??

Well I could think of no good answer to that, and so consider I did. Again – not an easy career, but then are any of the creative fields? So while I won’t be quitting my piece of shite day job anytime soon (sadly), I will be using my free time educating myself, practicing with the new equipment and building up a body of work to eventually create a portfolio in both photography and photo editing.

To get the ball rolling, I’ve created a new blog to focus solely on this endeavor. It’s called 1201 Photography (named for the beloved address in Victorian Village where Jeff and I spent a good deal of time last year) and can be found at http://www.1201photo.wordpress.com – also in the links at right).

My New Year’s Resolution this year was to try harder – at everything I do. I think 1201 is right in line with that, and I hope you enjoy its fruits.

 

I Just Really Like My Face. January 3, 2010

Filed under: photography — curiouserx2 @ 4:33 pm
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As I take more seriously the idea of photography and photo editing as a profession, Lightroom and I spend increasing hours together. These are the results of my latest messings around with this particular piece of software (and so far just the point-and-shoot – the digital SLR comes home this week!) Jeff’s been on vacation (avec les chats) so the house has been completely devoid of subjects – hence the wealth of self-portraiture (I mean, Frida Kahlo painted herself all the time and no one’s calling her vain…). Perhaps next I’ll actually read the tutorials on this sucker and really get down to business. (Instructions – meh.)