Monthly Archives: August 2010

On Compromise, Stream of Consciousness and Preoccupation

In lieu of the standard apology that I have traditionally administered in the past after prolonged and unexpected blog absences I thought I’d take a different approach here. Dive right into the stream of consciousness that has been keeping me preoccupied and away from the computer. No redress or mea culpa, just this. Me. Away. From home and from this place. But I’m back now. And if it’s all the same to you, I’d like to talk about it.

Any parent knows that the word vacation is a misnomer. There’s no vacation from early rising toddlers or moody adolescent ‘tweens. I don’t know about your kids but mine need to be fed (at least) three times a day and even with the overwhelming success of my first vegetable garden—someone still needs to go grocery shopping (apparently cherry tomatoes and cucumbers aren’t enough to live on).  Laundry doesn’t clean itself just because it’s vacation and toilet training tushies need wiping even in paradise. (Too much information?) It doesn’t matter where we are, someone needs to intervene when my children are bickering, and traveling or not, if someone is sick, I’m the designated nurse.

This isn’t a list of complaints, and I’m sure none of it is news to you. (It is, however, the reason that I’m in favor of leaving the kids with the in-laws or, in our crazy flavor of blended family madness, my ex-husband, and escaping real life for a weekend every now and again. But I digress.)

So we go on vacation and we don’t exactly take a break, but—and here’s the thing—we do it all in a different place.

In the past I’ve made no secret here that our lives are full of compromise. We don’t live in our perfect house or work at our dream jobs and times are tough. We’ve made choices and we’re making them work. Mostly. And it’s not always pretty. When we can, we go pretty places. Like this month. We went here:

I’ve been coming to this place or some place just like it since I was a child. Visiting with my own children carries with it equal elements of peace and longing. Hard as I try I still haven’t mastered the art of soaking enough of it in to be able to draw it back to the surface in the heavy darkness of a January afternoon. When I’m in it I spend rather a lot of time trying to come to terms with why we ever have to go home. The dichotomy between vacation and real life doesn’t make any sense when we’re standing on the beach at sunset.

How does vacation mean places that that inspire our senses and ignite our spent fires, and home means compromising on such things?

But it does. And we do.

I’m hoping this year when the inevitable weight of that January afternoon settles on my chest these photos* will bring me back. And if not? Well, there’s always next summer.

*Please note that if you aren’t interested in more photos of my lost month of August you may wish to avert your eyes for the next few posts since that’s mostly what I’ve got in store.

looking closer

or: where photography and life converge.

when i first started taking pictures—and for years afterward—my best images were made when i stepped closer to my subject. possibly, maybe even probably,  composing the shot to exclude the ‘main’ activity and hone in on some small detail. (lately i believe i’ve begun to achieve some success with a wider range of subject matter, but still, only with a narrower angle lens). this might be why i like to shoot with my aperture wide open—so that i don’t get too distracted by the background.

it’s (yet another) way I find photography to be a metaphor for life.

too much information is difficult for me to process.

the front page of a newspaper becomes a giant blur and i end up retaining nothing.

or a city street assaults my senses and i retreat.

i’ve learned that one story at a time is how i process best.

this made school difficult and it isn’t any easier now that i’m living in the real world.

try telling three boys at the dinner table not to talk over each other when they’re excited about something because mommy’s senses are overloaded.

or changing lanes in traffic while they are bickering in the back seat and the music is too loud and your husband is on the phone.

i wish i could tell you that i’ve developed a sophisticated coping strategy but—not so much.

i get pushed out of balance easily. always have.

it’s not all bad though. this intensity. it forces me inward. to pay close attention. to look closer and see the details. of everything.

i love this about photography and about writing, and i love it about how writing and photography intersect. And I’m learning to love it about myself.

Dear August. I Love You.

This weekend my littlest monster turned three. How I managed to be parenting one boy who is transitioning to puberty while the other is transitioning to underpants, seems either to be sheer genius, or a huge planning mishap. Either way, here we are.

There were birthday festivities.

And peaches and tomatoes. There will be peaches and tomatoes—and zucchini—from now until September. But it still won’t be enough for me.

And we will travel on a ferry and swim in The Atlantic. And the children will bring sand into the house.

But it won’t matter.

And the evenings will start earlier then they did last month. And we will play scrabble and sleep on the porch. And we will wear pajamas until noon and never put on shoes. And visit with friends and worry about seventh grade and cook everything on the grill and eat outdoors. And we will fret over how quickly it’s passing us by.

And we will savor every delicious moment of it.

And I’m pleased to tell you that I’ve been invited by Molly and Emily to guest post over at Habit this month so I’ll be spending some time over there. Won’t you stop by?

August.