Friday, February 27, 2009

On the side of God.

I had the unfortunate displeasure of witnessing, or rather being plowed into by, a conversation that rattled me to the bones.

The set up. Parallax in Tremont. Had a long day. Went for sushi to unwind and avoid cooking at home.

We sat down in a booth on the bar side of the restaurant.

A gawfaw with more power than Santa's ho ho ho's, with more testosterone that the incredible hulk, and with more stupidity than...well I'll go with a movie here....Super Bad.

A glass slammed onto the table followed by two solid thumps of mallet-demanding fists. My seat shook. My head thumped.

I got up and moved my seat to share the same side fo the table as my date.

I was now in clear view of exaclty what I was missing.

Two men. Fifities. Bolstering each other's egos. Feeding their swelling livers. Disturbing EVERYONE in the bar.

Had it been all in good fun. Okay, well that's one thing. Two buddies catching up. Sharing laughs. Having a good time. I get that. I can get past that.

But this is what i heard...minor paraphrasing...but damn close.

Arrogant 1 "My son and I were driving and he starts crying like a woman"
Arrogant 2 " Gawfaw. Like a f'in woman. Where were you?"
Arrogant 1 " East 185. He says 'dad you can do such big things in life, but I can't.'"
Arrogant 2 " Your in the f'in ghetto and he's crying like a f'in woman."
Arrogant 1 "He's sobbing and crying, so I got out of the car."
Arrogant 2 "In the f'in ghetto."

Arrogant 1 goes on to speak on the humilation he has over his son. He left him to deal with his own problems.

Arrogant 2 chimes in with fist and fury about how Arrogant 1's wife is an enabler. Why? Because she supports her son living with is girlfriend when they aren't married. He wishes she'd see that she deserves a "normal" family. But he "sends his love."

They are shouting their way through a maze of f bombs and self fulfilling illusions about their power over the world and superiority over those they know.

Dripping with disgust over the perceived failure of Arrogant 1's son.

Using the N word like their jobs entitle them to judge and offend whoever is in earshot.

Even worse, not even noticing that anyone was within earshot to hear the entire series of proclamations or to be disturbed by the hefty outbursts and pounding on the table.

At the end of it all, Arrogant 2 brings up some situation where Arrogant 1 proposed watching porn on a trip to a bunch of his buddies.

Arrogant 2 didn't want to watch porn. He's "religious".

Arrogant 1 doesn't put on the porn.

Arrogant 2 says, "You are a good man. A real good man. You are on the side of God."

Yes, definitely. Arrogant 1 is a man on God's side. And Arrogant 2 is just the man to judge that.
What a pair.

I pray for the Arrogant 1's poor son. That he turns out to be a better father than his is. And that he knows it's ok to have emotion. That is better than what he was offered that night. That the real shame belongs to a failed father with a closed mind.

I pray that the other man doesn't have children or a wife. And that at some point someone kicked him out of Parallax and sent him on his merry way. IN A CAB.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What makes a good photo, good?


I have been spending a lot of my time looking through photographs lately - other peoples' and my own.

Here's the thought I keep having. Is a picture really a good picture just because the model is pretty? Is that really interesting enough to equate to quality?

Is a picture a good picture just because you happened to capture someone else performing something they are good at? Is that a picture of a talented individual or is that a great photo?

I know that there is a distinct need for pictures of models AND that photo journalism is a skill as well.

I'm posing the question in general.

What makes a photo good to you?

Monday, February 23, 2009

State of Mind

Has this ever happened to you? You hear a word, of a new restaurant, or of anything unfamiliar really for the first time and then you hear it multiple more times in a relatively short span of time after that.

Something you didn't even know existed or never noticed all of a sudden becomes a regular topic of introduction - and not because you keep bringing it up, but because it keeps bringing itself to you?

Getting ready for today's interview I started thinking about the last couple of weeks. I got laid off, and I immediately got up and started working for myself.

Not just to find a job or to bring in money. To keep positive and upbeat and happy. To try to see the light in my situation. To avoid the trap of laying in the bed and wallowing in self pity.

The reason I bring these two topics up in succession is this: as a general rule, " you get more out of what you focus on."

I'm not saying you necessarily only get good if you focus on good. Life happens. But I am saying that if you focus on good, you SEE more and place more value on the good. You train yourself to look for it. You tint the glasses pink. You are more receptive to seeing positives.

I'm not saying that living this way is easy or even possible all of the time. We do have to mourn and work through our emotions.

I'm only saying that it's what I've been trying to do and that it's been working in a lot of ways. I'm focused on what is good around me. On positive momentum. I'm letting the less than positive things just kind of skirt around me right now. I don't want to see them or pay attention to them. They are poison right now.

As a side thought: when you hear of something new, and then hear it again and again, you are in some way probably paying attention to something that you never paid attention before. Maybe you have heard the word before, but were never open to hearing it. Maybe in the past you didn't have a need or a receptor for what that experience/word/place/thought would have had to offer you.

Maybe when things start coming up in what seems like coincidental patterns we should give them heed. Try to figure out what they mean in regards to where we are in life. What are we subconsciously focused on. What should we be doing to move forward. What could we be taking advantage of.

My advice, keep your focus on the things you want to receive in life. They are there for the taking if you don't let them pass you by without notice.

Yogi teabag quote of the day: "Mental happiness is total relaxation."

Put your mind in the right place.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Bubble of Purity

I was in the shower when I saw this shot. So, I hurried, finished rinsing off and grabbed my camera.

I was afraid that a drop of water or a change in the pressure would pop the bubble and I'd lose my chance to get the shot.

The bottle was sitting crooked, halfway on top of a bar of soap. Despite the less than perfect composition I snapped a couple of times, then I tried to move the bottle to get a better shot...and the bubble popped.

With a little photo editing, I straightened the bottle and I am actually liking the way that the shot came out.

And now, my thoughts.

Purity exists in a bubble.

When your actions are pure, when situations are pure, when relationships are pure ... they function in a a special way untouched by the world around them. Free of defensiveness, free of the need for explanation, free of guilt - and full of raw emotion.

Purity can be a wonderful bubble. A place to bond and to rejoice - with yourself and with others. A place to see things and people in isolation. A place to see how the world would turn if nothing but positivity, trust, and innocence were the driving forces. If we never found room for doubt, a reason to lie, to fight to pick ... if we never had to face little realities.

Purity is the bubble that exists before you tell your first lie. Before you have your first fight. Before you see the flaws - in yourself and in those you love.

In each and every situation the purity will pop eventually. It will expose us to the world, the people, the negativity that exists around us. It will force us to face the reality that exists outside of the bubble.

So I think that we should all be slow to pop the bubble.

Enjoy the moments. Take the time to bond in the protection of innocence. Tell yourself the truth. Be cautious in the fights you pick. Don't always look for something to be wrong. Trust until you are sure you cannot. Take time to believe the unbelievable. Look for and straight at the good - get comfortable with the positives.

Once a situation's bubble is popped, it is popped. There's not turning back to take advantage of all that it has to offer - the foundation that it can help us build.

A tisket. A tasket.

It's been an interesting week and a half for me. I feel like I've really been exploring the opportunities out there for writers. I haven't put all of my eggs in one basket yet, but I have found a couple of places I'm definitely wanting to pursue (a couple of boiling eggs, if you will forgive me my corny comparison)...and one golden egg that REALLY struck my fancy. First impressions are big. And this place really left me with a good one.

Yogi teabag quote of the day: "Whatever you are doing is the most beautiful thing."

Isn't that the truth? Despite the fact that I'm currently lacking employment stability...I'm loving every minute of my days. I'm making the most of the situation and hopefully making a few good contacts along the way. This has been a huge reminder period for me. With change comes opportunity. It just take the right attitude to be open to it.

Cheers to life and to living it fully.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Food Photography

I haven't been here to write in a bit. Surprisingly I have been putting in more than 8 hours of "work" every day since the layoff. I'm really enjoying it.

When I say "work" it has been everything from rewriting my resume to putting together my portfolio to interviewing tirelessly for full time and freelance jobs.

Yesterday my dad gave me the opportunity to get involved with a fun project. I went up to a restaurant that we've been eating at religiously for years and took photos of the food! It was a challenge for me. I'm just learning little tricks about lighting...using natural light vs. flash. Using the auto focus to focus on a neutral color in the photo so it isn't over or underexposed. I have a long way to go in my learning process.

The good news for me though - I now have some photos to share on here. Something I haven't done in a while!!

Let me know what you think. And I'll always be open to tips and critiques!

And if you want a taste of this delicious food: Visit The Tomato Grill in Hudson, Ohio!!

Friday, February 13, 2009

You must not quit

My dad had emailed this to me a while back. I'm not sure who wrote it, but it seems applicable here and now! Enjoy.

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road your trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit
Rest if you must, but don't you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and its turns,
As everyone of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about
When they might have won, had they stuck it out.
Don't give up though the pace seems slow,
You may succeed with another blow.
Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victors cup;
And he learned too late when the night came down,
How close he was to the golden crown.
Success is failure turned inside out
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when your hardest hit,
It's when things seem worst that you must not quit!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Chin up. Chin up.

Day 1 - Unemployment.

It's interesting the things we go through in life. I'm certainly not alone in the world right now. Everyone knows we've got a 16 year high in unemployment - and it's hitting people everywhere. But this is me and my life - so that 16 year high becomes a bit more personal.

The truth is, I feel like I handled the first day of transition rather well. I don't have anger in me...this is no one's fault. I don't feel bad for myself...that does nothing but waste time. I'm reaching out to people and trying to figure out how I can take this challenge to a better I can make this situation work for me.

I filed for unemployment immediately. Then I did something else...I took out my resume and started writing...and I made contact with the people I know. I've had great response...and it gives me hope that no matter what happens I'll be okay.

So, I guess thats the mindset I'm adopting permanently. Whatever happens, I will be ok.

I think it helps that I love people. I love the people I know. I have a sense of being able to count on the people around me. I trust that I give my best in return.

Mean spirited behavior does nothing but burn bridges, and end friendships, and take for granted the positives that exist everywhere.

So here's to today. Resume writing. Making connections. And keeping my chin high in the air.

Yogi teabag quote of the day: "To learn, read. To know, write. To master, teach."

I'm going to try to do a little of each today!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Fear and Shadows.

I was sitting in the car last night and observing the shadow that my hand made on my leg.

The further my hand was from my leg the larger the shadow got - even to the point that it didn't even look like a hand at all anymore.

For some reason while I was doing this a comment was made about me getting over my fear.

It got me thinking.

Fears mirror the behavior of shadows a bit.

The further we keep ourselves away from the things that we are afraid of - the bigger and scarier they seem. Most of the time the anticipation that we give to our fears creates a sense of grandness - a disillusion about what there is to really be afraid of. We put such a space between us and the things we fear that we can't see them for what they really are.

It isn't until we become brave and get up close that we are able to really see our fears in their truest form.

To deal with life head on we have to put down our projected thoughts, close in on the distance between us and what plagues us, and take on challenges head on.

Only then are we able to truly determine if we should be so fearful or not.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Bounce with me.

I'm finding it beneficial to work on the floor in my office today. New perspective.

I have a slightly heavy heart today because someone that inspires me quite a bit is no longer going to be available to do so 5 days a week - or at the times when I need it most. So, I grieve a bit. And I seek a bit.

I realize that I need to be able to recreate this sense of inspiration. It's critical.

My challenge is mostly in how to draw it out and to step outside of my comfort zone to find it. How to bring keep for myself an environment that feeds ideas. How to inspire people to want to be involved in the process with me. How to fit into other people's processes. How to find it independently when situations require it.

Collaboration to me is the critical force that takes an idea from good to great.

When you bounce a ball to yourself you know the force you've put on it. You can expect how it will bounce back to you. The catch and release become somewhat automatic. Sometimes you add a little extra force and readjust your reaction time, but for the most part you are in control. It goes up and down, up and down..but it never gets the motion change forced on it by another set of willing and purposeful hands. It never benefits from a change of motion set on by adapting to a new flow of movement, receiving the pitch, giving an instantaneous and purely reactive reaction in return.

That's what collaboration is to me.

Freshness inspired by unexpected, instantaneous and purely reactive reactions. Change put into motion by multiple sources of force and drive.

Today I begin to try to keep that alive. I've got to open up. Push myself harder. And, definitely remember to pass the ball.

My brain requires it. Ideas feed of of it. Progress depends on it.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The root and the wing. The rock and the sea.

This Revolutionary Road movie has really stirred a lot of thinking. Not only in my life, but in the lives of those around me.

Through endless conversations I've realized that when having to categorize myself I tend to be more of the root or the rock than the wing or the sea.

It's not that I love Cleveland winters or think that this city has tons of inherent excitement, but somehow I've found a way to truly feel it as my home. It's not that I don't like to get on a plane and travel...see the world and float for a bit, but I couldn't do it forever. I'd want to come back.

I've thought a lot about this over the years. Would 12 months of sunshine create enough happiness that I wouldn't need to be able too see my family whenever I wanted to? Would the ability to go out and walk the beach or hike through a desert mountain mean more than being able hop in my car and get to the people I love? And for me, the answer is that it just wouldn't.

I've always had this internal dialogue with myself. The thing I always get back to is this - I get one life to live with the people I care about. I've been blessed enough to be related to and surrounded with people that I truly, truly love. I want to spend my time by their sides. I already don't see the people I love as often as I'd like to.

I've been called a gypsy in my life. And I guess in some ways internally I am. I can make myself happy in nearly any crowd and nearly any job. I do well with change.

However, I think that the reason that I do so well with change is that I have very strong and long roots. I have a great support system of people around me. I know which people offer me which type of support and I've never been to prideful to ask for it.

Yogi teabag quote of the day: "Love, compassion and kindness are the anchors of life."


Something really struck me yesterday.

I went to listen to an open mic night and outside of it was a young man trying to get people to listen to his CDs and/or buy them. He solicited me once when I got out of the car. I went into the coffee shop and walked back out and he solicited me again (not even realizing he had spoke to me ten minutes before.) Then I walked down the street and back up to go back into the coffee shop and he solicits me a third time (again not even realizing that he had already spoken to me twice).

Here’s my thought on this. If you are going to expect people to pay attention to what you are doing or care about your music or any other thing you want to put out there…when you are making direct contact with them it’d probably be a good idea to look them in the eye and pay a bit of attention to them as well.

We all have certain talents. For talents to take off and become something bigger…to catch fire and become popular…they require adoption by a community. And to create a sense of community you have to participate in it. You can’t expect that people will be interested in what you are doing just because you are doing it.

If I write a blog and want people to read it I realize that it is a good idea to participate and read other people’s blogs as well. I can’t sit here and think that what I have to say is so much better or so much more important that I should expect them to want to read mine even if I am blowing theirs off.
It all goes back to the adage “you have to give if you want to receive.”

Yes, I realize that there are exceptions to this and that once things catch fire it’s not always possible for balance to be created…but until things reach that tipping point I think reciprocation is due.

And for that young man outside of the coffee shop, reciprocation could have been as easy as looking up and paying attention to the people he was thrusting his music at. Even if his music had been good…I tend to support people not just their sounds. He was a long way off from grabbing my attention. Plus, I’m not sure he needed mine – he had quite a lot of his own.

Yogi teabag quote of the day “Your greatness is not what you have, it’s what you give.”
Seems fitting.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Arms length

I could keep you at arms length.
But then how would you tickle me out of this sadness?
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Sunday, February 1, 2009

Everyday meaning

We just left the theater after watching Revolutionary Road and I can't shake the internal dialogue in my mind. The movie dabbled in many of the flaws and struggles of the "human" condition. Self definition. The pursuit of happiness. Self worth. Contentment. Family. Self Awareness. Marital conflict. The meaning of commitment. I could probably go on for another 20 minutes listing themes.

What strikes me as I'm sitting here now however is part of what I saw as the main struggle of Kate Winslet's character in the movie. Internal happiness. Contentment.

I can't say that she was right or wrong in feeling like she needed something different or more out of her life. That's not mine to judge. However, I can say that in her discontentment I feel like she turned her focus and her needs so far into herself that she wasn't conscious of how she was affecting the people around her...or how they could affect her. She wasn't able to be.

I think that part of getting out of depression is being able to look outside of yourself and appreciate the way life works and moves on and progresses even while you are down or consumed. It's about trying to see the light outside even when the inside of you is dark.

I'm not saying this is always possible. But I do think it's important.

We can take ourselves seriously. We can want better. We can want more. We can want change. But when we get so wrapped up in it that we can't see that life is good just for the sake of being LIFE...the climb out of darkness is long and directionless. We can't see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I guess what I am saying is that it is always important to stay connected to something bigger than ourselves and to the people around us. It is important not only to do right by our own needs, but also by the needs of others. Sometimes all it takes is reaching out and doing something solely for the sake of someone else to create worth and light in our own lives. It's so important to know how to genuinely wish for other people to succeed and to smile for them when they do.

When you allow these little things to count then every day starts counting for something - even if you don't have a "personal" triumph that day.

When you let happiness in you invite more happiness in. You can change the feeling inside of you.

Plus it's important to realize that we don't always know the road that will take us to where we are meant to be. Patience, faith, gratitude and presence of mind can be as important as ambition. They hold many of the keys to forward progress.

I think that it is important to realize that we can't always drive the changes that we need in our lives because we don't always know what is best for us. We have to trust that we will get there and that we will learn and do what we are meant to do as long as we keep ourselves open to it and connected to possibility. When we shut down we shut off the possibility for good things to find us.

Life can change simply saying yes to something that is embracing possibility when it comes. If we are too shut down to see it, if we shut down connections and lose faith, the chance for getting out of depression and hopelessness moves further and further away.