July 10, 2010 ~ Comments Off

colorizing

There’s something about color that inspires me. Especially when that color matches the name of my blog. So here we go with another new theme (as with the last one, from WooThemes).

Let’s see, what’s new… I’m currently in one of those phases where I feel as though everything needs to change. Or at least my job, my activities and my health. One of those times when my brain is constantly being pulled in at least a dozen different directions, leaving me fairly motionless in the middle of it all, never accomplishing anything in the end. Rather than choose a path, I’m overwhelmed with conflict and anxiety. What should I be doing? What’s most important? Do I need to do A in order to accomplish B? And it goes on and on while I watch everyone around me moving and changing and doing.

Will I ever find a job that leaves me feeling fulfilled at the end of the day? Will I ever find an exercise regimen I can stick to? Will I ever break the anxiety cycle and feel energized when I start my day, ready to conquer the world? These are all good questions, ones I’ve been trying to answer for the past several years. I’m hoping to actually find the answers one day. I just don’t know how soon that will be.

For now, I make a tentative promise to you that, now that we’ve set up the desktop computer in the less-secluded, more-spacious dining room, I will try to post here again. Don’t laugh if it ends up being attempts at short stories or random fiction—I got tired of writing self-involved woe-is-me stories a long time ago, and while I know that will still come out once in a while (as it did above) I’d like to think I have more potential than that, more to give.

So, here goes…

April 16, 2010 ~ Comments Off

the value of a life

Three old men were out fishing in the lake behind my office today.

(This sounds like the start to some sort of parable, doesn’t it? It’s not. Well, not really anyway.)

All three men had their lines in the water, and, as I watched from the bank, the line closest to the boat’s motor sprang to life. The line’s owner tugged and tweaked it, then hoisted the dripping fish from the water. It wasn’t huge, but big enough that the middle man opened the boat’s storage container before the hook was even out of the fish’s mouth. The catcher removed the hook and tossed the fish into the bin, turning back to the motor before the middle man had even dropped the lid.

Without pause, the man baited his hook again and slung it back into the water. I stared for a moment and wondered what happened to the fanfare. Isn’t a person supposed to celebrate a success like catching a fish on a relatively quiet fishing day? None of the other lines were wiggling, so it seemed like it might be worth a little revelry. But none of the men reacted, and the motion of it all was so fluid, it was as if it never happened – I wouldn’t have realized it had if I’d blinked a little longer than usual.

If I ever caught a fish or shot a duck, I would celebrate. (Of course, I wouldn’t do either of those things, because it’s not who I am, but we’re speaking hypothetically here.) I would take a few moments, examine my quarry and be so excited about my accomplishment. Maybe after years of catching fish, the sparkle of another tug on the line has faded. But I imagine, even those who live off the land, who catch a hundred fish a week to feed their families, still pause to reflect each time, if for no other reason than to show respect for the life sacrificed to save another. I think it’s that link to the earth that these men, and many others, have lost sight of.

I respect people’s interests, and their desire to pursue game of all shapes and sizes, but I can’t respect people who don’t respect the animals they hunt, kill and consume. Maybe you don’t believe a fish has feelings, friends or family, but he’s part of the circle of life, of the earth you live in, of a bigger picture than just your boat, your line, your day at the lake. Respect that and the earth will respect you.

September 26, 2009 ~ Comments Off

dulcet banjo pickin’

Sometimes all it takes to brighten your mood is a good song, one that either punches you in the gut or makes you smile even after the last note is played.

I went to Memphis’ Minglewood Hall to see The Avett Brothers in concert Thursday night. It was a band I’d heard and liked in passing, that graces my Pandora stations on a regular basis. But I can sing along to only one song.

Several local Twitter folks mentioned they’d be attending the show, and though I had no one to walk in the door with, the cheap tickets and desire to see a great band live won me over.

otherlandsI pow-wowed over coffee with a coworker beforehand at Otherlands, getting a pep talk that encouraged me to “strut” when I arrived at Minglewood, seek out the Twitter friends, show them who I really was and just how cool. I won’t say I strutted, but I was tracked down by two of the nicest Twitter kids out there, who just happen to be engaged to one another.

The show was the best I’ve ever attended, by far. The opening act, Samantha Crain and the Midnight Shivers, was more than enough to get me primed for the Avetts, replete with hot harmonica playing and energetic guitar strumming. I ended up purchasing one of their albums, since the Avetts are more easily found on the Internet.

But the main event was just… beyond words, really. I’ve liked the few Avett songs I’ve heard over the past year, but their live performance is leaps and bounds beyond that. They are everywhere at once, switching up instruments and singing so clear, so beautifully, I was blown away. They did sing St. Joseph’s, which is the one I can sing, so I was happy for that bit of familiarity.

avettsThey also sang a new one called January Wedding, which almost had me in tears. It was so sweet, so poignant, so simple about falling in love, having it feel just right without trying, knowing it will all work out. I’ve never felt that way myself. Every relationship has felt like a struggle. And sometimes it was because the spark wasn’t there, because we were trying to force something that just wasn’t going to happen. But often it was because I wasn’t OK myself, because I was forcing MYSELF to be something I wasn’t, to be perfect and beautiful and fun, when I just couldn’t be without wearing myself out from the stress of it all.

The Avett concert worked to lift my spirits quite a bit. To be around new people, to hear great music, to be inspired by the whole event – I’m so glad I went. It’s something I need to keep doing, to stretch my boundaries and live my life. I look forward to the next show.

August 11, 2009 ~ Comments Off

a window to your life.

I know of someone who is hurting today. I don’t know her personally, but she’s a Twitter acquaintance. I’d never spoken with her before, but I sent her a private message asking if she was OK after seeing what appeared to be a rather dire tweet in her feed. She responded later in the day explaining what has to be the most heartbreaking situation.

On one hand, my heart broke for her as well, getting those few details of the situation that could fit into 140-character blurbs. On the other, I was astonished at her openness. I realize that being strangers almost makes it easier, because I’ll never show up at her door or tell anyone what I know or really have much to say besides, “I hope things get better.” But she could’ve chosen never to respond, or at least to lie and say, “Nope, I’m OK. Just a rough day.”

She didn’t. And that’s one of the things I love about Twitter. It connects people in real ways. Sure, not all my “friends” are really my friends. Heck, I could count up the friends I have and still have a few toes left over, while Twitter and Facebook both claim I’m going on about 350. But there’s something different about Twitter. While not all of these people are my real-life friends, I care about them in similar ways. I look forward to the information and thoughts they share. To those brief periods of interaction and camaraderie. Not to mention the constant flow of funny videos, nerd goodies and other stuff I wouldn’t find without them.

Social media really is an amazing thing at the base level. Jazz it up a little (but not too much) and you have something that is so multipurpose that many people rely on it on a day-to-day basis. It is community. It is fun, interactive, friendly and informative. It can be someone’s solace and support, even someone’s lifeline when a really tough day rears its head. Twitter has been that for me some days, when my heart’s been too heavy to pick up the phone and call a friend, when my thoughts won’t stay in one place long enough to write an e-mail or a blog entry. Getting those 140-character snippets has been a lifesaver (or at least a smile inducer) more than once.

I told this woman on Twitter that my thoughts are with her, that I’ll be here should she need anything. Even though we’ve never met. Even though I couldn’t tell you more than a handful of things about her. Even though we’ll probably never see each other’s faces outside a slanted avatar beside our tweets. I’m still there. We all are. I think the community Twitter and other social networking sites let us build is one that’s stronger than we realize. We may not drop everything to help a fellow user, but we’re sure to go out of our way to find a URL, share a contact or even put in a good word should the request come. And because we see random thoughts and ideas flying about all day, we can answer unasked questions and come through well before we’re expected to, just because social media gives us that window into each other’s daily lives.

That’s why I love Twitter. As silly as it sounds, even if another DDoS or other attack wipes out Twitter completely, I will look back on my time there fondly. But I don’t think it’s going anywhere. Even with as much growth and change as we’ve seen in the past year, there’s a million miles yet to go in the world of social media, and I hope I’ll get to be one of those people who laces up her shoes and runs alongside.

August 07, 2009 ~ 4 Comments

RIP Pete

Pete and BryanIt’s sadly ironic that I showcased Bryan’s cat Pete in my blog so recently, and today he is gone. Not long after that post, Pete was diagnosed with kidney failure. It’s not uncommon for older cats, but Pete really wasn’t that old, which makes it all the more unfortunate. Bryan and I noticed he’d been more absent than usual one weekend, and then that he was looking skinny and acting sluggish, so Bryan took him to the doctor the following week. The vet reported that his kidneys had failed already, giving him a couple weeks to a couple months to live. So Bryan broke out the expensive wet food (easier for Pete to eat because of his existing dental issues) and tried to fatten him up and keep him happy.

Pete waits patiently for chiliBut, even with a few mornings pestering Bryan in bed for more food or water (his usual repertoire) his condition worsened more quickly than the doctor estimated. On Wednesday night, he climbed into the bathtub after Erica had taken a shower, never a good sign with sick animals. We put his water bowl in with him, and he drank for several minutes straight. Later that night, he was in the corner under Nick’s bed. It was obvious he was not gaining weight and it was time to put his quality of life first.

So, Bryan made the incredibly hard decision to let him go. He and his mom took Pete to the vet today. And that was that. Even now, it makes me tear up to think about it. I know I have a soft heart anyway, especially when it comes to animals, but I’d already grown to love that little orange fuzzball. Even with matted fur on his little legs, stinky breath and goobers on his face, I would’ve let him sit on my lap for hours if he would’ve tolerated me that long. But, although it hurts that he’s gone, and my heart goes out to Bryan, Pete and his Snack PackNancy and the rest of Pete’s extended family, it hurt more to see him in pain.

Erica came up with a story once that Pete was going to Space Camp. She told Bryan he could come, too, if he hid in Pete’s backpack and promised not to eat his Snack Packs. When I was at the market last night gathering supplies to cook dinner at Bryan’s, I saw a package of Jell-O pudding cups in the clearance section. I thought Pete wouldn’t mind the brand discrepancy, so I bought them. I brought him a cup last night, for his ultimate trip to Space Camp this afternoon.

We’ll miss you, buddy. We won’t be the same without you. We’re already changed because of you. And even though I barely got to know you, I love you dearly, Peters. Have a great time at Space Camp. :*)