Going With The Flow

Saturday, July 19, 2014

I am just going with the flow.  

I cannot control a 14 hour delay for an international flight, nor can I control the typhoon that caused that delay.  I cannot control the power being off in some parts of our neighborhood.  I cannot control the damage done to our wifi cable.   I cannot control if people I love are hurt by people I do not know.  I cannot control my mother's memory.  I can control how to make things easier for her.  I cannot control when people need to leave before I am ready for them to.  I cannot control so many things that I want to have control over.  

But I have control over my perspective.  I have control over my attitude.  I have control over the rate at which I inhale and exhale.  I do not have control over my mood, but I have control over whether I am crabby or kind.  I have control over the things I choose to do.  I have control over the company I keep.  I have control over how I take care of myself.  I cannot control whether my mom will drink her green juice.  I can control whether I bark at her to drink it or patiently encourage her to try it.  I cannot control when I feel bitter, but I can control when to address it.  

I cannot control time.  I can control how I spend it.   I have control over the kind of friend I am.  I have control over how I treat and appreciate people.  I cannot control who I love, but I can control how to best love them.  

I cannot control technical difficulties, but I can control what I do to get around them.  

I cannot control when the post I write is considered good by someone else.  I can control my commitment to keep on writing.  

I cannot control the flow.  I can control if I let myself just go with it anyway.  I choose to go with the flow when I can't control anything else, because whenever I go with it, that flow usually gets me where I need to be.  

Connecting the Dots: The Paper Boy

Sunday, July 6, 2014

There is hardly a way to complete a succession of blog posts like my Connecting the Dots series in one fell swoop as I had foolishly deemed possible last February.  I don't sit with a playback reel of my love (and lost) life constantly going in the background.  Life has its way of switching that projector on and off when it comes to thoughts of the people who shaped our love lives. That's my opinion, at least. Once in a while there will come a trigger that brings to mind memories of past relationships. I don't believe anyone who denies he or she ever experiences this.  It doesn't have to mean there is anything unresolved.  I firmly believe like any life experience, the old feelings and emotions we lived through back then shape who we are for better or for worse. 

Being the sentimental fool and writer I am, I often think about what happened in my life to make me staunchly stubborn about certain views while compassionate and non judgmental in others.  What conversation prompted me to consider that selflessness means different things to different men?  Why do I laugh each time mango and roe are present in a sushi roll?  When did I become even more aware of the cut of a man's jacket sleeve?  Why did I never get through watching the movie, A Few Good Men?  What fueled my fascination with paper colors and textures?  Everything has a back story.  

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One would not think to put the two of us together.  Landing right in that space where our different circles met, the common plane- the union- I think it is, is how we became friends.    We met at an outdoor party where the drinks were overflowing out of the back of a truck and our old college buddies celebrated the New Year rowdy and free.  I spotted this person joking around, chatting it up with some people I knew, and pouring varied  people a suspicious looking concoction out of an orange jug.  "Cheers!" he said to me reaching for a cup.  "Um, I see you pouring it out but you don't seem to be drinking any of it," were my first words to him with my brow raised.  I told him I wanted to see him drink a full plastic cup of it.   He looked at me quizzically and asked,  "Who are you?"   I smiled and shrugged.  "I am not drinking anything you're pouring if you won't drink it yourself."  He downed his serving and showed me his empty cup with our friends looking on.  "There, " he said, "Your turn?"  "No thank you," I answered with a grin and walked away.  

Before I knew it we were having a getting-to-know-you dinner later that week.  But whether in finance or farming, nothing could put a damper on a date like shop talk.  He opened the career conversation and I found myself slowly inching towards 'tuned out' territory.   "People don't realize just how interesting paper is," he told me.  Hold the presses... did he just say he ran a paper mill and company?  Breaks screeching, needle scratching... Oh!  Now he had my full attention.  

There seemed to be nothing more engrossing to either of us that evening than the talk of pearlized medium weight paper in pink or powder blue finishes.  Or the kinds of playing cards Las Vegas chose to deal with.  Thinking back right now, I didn't notice the clear sky under which we dined, or the breeze blowing in from the bay.  All I wanted to know was what the worst thing is that can happen to paper.  "Water" he said.  "Fire is nothing, you can trim burnt edges or salvage what's left.  But get those same reams wet? ohh!!"  he closed his eyes and grimaced as if he were stabbed in the heart.  

Years before we met, I was a freshman in college and he had just about graduated, so there was no way for us to sensibly have been acquainted to the average passer by.  Someone once asked me, "How do you two even know each other? What do you even talk about?" We had common friends of varying degrees, but my friends were merely his acquaintances, and vice versa.  When we'd meet up on a night out, it was easy to chat as a group, but for the most part all of our joking around, discussions about paper, exchanged stories about our families, visions for our respective futures ... it all happened just between us, typically at a table in a quiet restaurant where he liked to sit "Godfather style" with his back to the wall of the furthest corner in the room so he could see everyone and everything.    

He didn't woo me with conventionally romantic presents, but instead he played to his strengths like delivering several reams of deliciously decadent stock to the faculty room for our special projects, and delighting me with new paper products before their retail release.  I could listen to his corny puns every day, as there were things beyond our stationery seriousness that we shared.  When paper meets passion - or was it the other way around?

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I knew in my gut that it would not work out long term between us, and not just because I was moving away that spring.  I knew by then that a relationship takes more than chemistry and common interests for any of us to be the Paper Girl to another's Paper Boy.  But you only live once, I thought, and why not keep playing the game while you're already having fun? I knew I'd keep everything in perspective, because I could be steady as a rock when I wanted to be.  But as the game goes, paper always beats rock.   I adore paper, but this rock didn't expect to be beaten by it.

When spring ended that fling, I won't deny that a few emotions were involved.  He wasn't exaggerating about what happens when paper gets wet.   Tears, though few, tend to make their mark, and when they dampened our paper ... it certainly felt a bit like that stab to the heart.

Still connecting... what will I recall next? 

A Gal, A Blog, and Her Pictures

Monday, June 30, 2014

Behind the pictures is the gal writing this blog
while behind this blog is 
the gal taking the pictures.

Some time ago, my Chicago based bloggy friend, domesticatedesk, encouraged me to start matching up my posts with a picture taken from my point of view to help illustrate a theme, in place of relying on Google and Bing Image searches to help support my content.  Of course I had a friendly point of contention:  Where will I take a picture of an old couple arguing if that is what will perfectly illustrate my life as a wife frustration at 9pm?  Why fret when there are definitely stock photos of a flaky croissant for free use because I already ate all of mine, thus my need for said croissant photo?  If I think I am at my wit's end from overwhelming annoyance and stress, who best to provide a visual than Kristin Wiig? Using stock imagery has allowed me the freedom to write about topics in mind even though they lack a visual presence in my life.  I have visions of how I would like certain words to translate in a picture, and knowing they are a click away from being legally used with proper credit, then why not?

This is not to say that I did not wish deep down inside that I had an eye that others could understand.    My voice, somehow, was one thing I am happy enough with that I want to write either way.  My eye, on the other hand, my sense of how I perceived things visually ... that was something I feared was uninteresting.  Domesticatedesk wrote in her email that there must be a unique way that I can see things that was worth looking into.   Learning how to maximize the use of my iPhone camera from Sarah Deragon  at Makeshift Society last year was the turning point for me.  There are ways for  a story to be told without words and without fancy equipment.  This was the lesson I gathered coming from this professional photographer.  With the advent of my Instagram account (follow me @blogger_bp), I have been able to see my life in those small moments that tell these every day stories.  This makes me appreciate the day to day even more, while providing me new ways to write varied organic content that I sometimes share here.

Who would have thought that sharing personal pictures would become an ingredient in my blog life? Without them, I would not have my little community of kid snugglers, late night crafters, weekend bakers, healthy (and not so healthy) eaters, cocktail shakers, beach breathers, paper hoarders, picnic goers, beauty product obsessors and fashion twirlers.  Before I started taking and sharing everyday pictures, I thought I was strange for being lost in the lines of a building and being swept up in the negative space of the sky behind parted branches even though I am not a professional photographer nor a trained designer.  Now that I have a place to look at pictures throughout the day, I can see a painter's collection coming together, a calligrapher's hand becoming more adept at her art, and a blog friend's baby growing and smiling at the camera for the first time.

I love it though.  I love all of it.  And now, I am so happy to share, am so happy to look, happy to discover and happy to surprise myself with what I see either behind my iPhone lens or behind the pictures that are posted by someone else.  I never have had a shortage of people around me in my life, but with this blog and now with these pictures, no matter what time it is, or how old I get, I feel like I never will.

This is how it began.  My classmates from iPhoneography 101 at Makeshift Society, San Francisco.  Thanks, Sarah! 

Chivarly: Is it dead, or just different?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

 I found this photo via BingImages. A lady shouldn't have to light her own cigarette.
On the plane earlier this year I was in tears.  I was having a very emotional moment while working on a post and the tears just kept streaming down my face.  Luckily, I wasn't gasping, sniffling, nor gulping, but wiping my cheeks and eyes from the constant stream that was running down my face, as bad as a water faucet, just saltier.  

I was thankful that my neighboring seat was empty and that I was surrounded  by men otherwise.  Not one of them would dare ask me if I was okay, which I guess I preferred.  If this were forty years ago, I thought, would one of them have offered me a handkerchief?  Would a mid century gentleman have called a flight attendant to check on me?

On the shuttle to work each morning there are more and more employees and less and less seats available.  This private shuttle, full of well educated and professionally creative types, is stuffed to the seams with iPod listening, messenger bag carrying men.  The guy who decides to move his bag out of the way with the deep 'hassled' exhale is the rule.  The  man who quietly clears the seat next to him for me without being asked sans attitude (but sans the acknowledgment of eye contact  either) is the exception.   Is chivalry dead?

Subtleties in chivalry naturally displayed by Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday 

I remember being amused by a young guy a while back who waved his hand in front of the door opening motion sensor at a store and smiled so brightly at me, saying, "There you go, miss," so proud of himself that his mama raised him right.  Naturally I thanked him.  Perhaps chivalry is just different.

Is this what I have to look forward to for the rest of my life?  I acknowledge that the rules have changed, so much so that boys grow up clueless that there used to be more to being a gentleman than a cloth napkin on your lap at the table.  Years ago a man was supposed to go down the stairs ahead of a lady or up the stairs behind her in case she slips or falls.  You most certainly opened the passenger seat door for her to get in and ran around from the driver's seat to let her out, hopefully with an umbrella if it is raining versus shouting to her, "Watch out for puddles!" as he pulls over to drop her off at the curb post-date.  I am definitely not of an entirely different generation (yet) but I did grow up for a large part of my life in a society and culture where the guys I knew carried my books for me while walking down the hall in college, or helping lug my bag to the car.  They would arrive to pick me up and sit with my mother or father for even just five minutes before I came down from my room to go out to dinner, whether it was a romantic date or a platonic hang out.  A friend of mine once exclaimed that she loved my boyfriend at the time because when crossing the street together he walked "on the danger side" switching over so that he was in the way of on coming traffic, as a gesture to protect and guide us ladies.  I see pedestrian couples every day touring downtown stuck on opposite sides of the street with the guys yelling from across the way, "What happened?" and the women shrieking back, "You ran ahead of me on a yellow light!"

I own the fact that I am pretty old fashioned in this regard.  I imagine you either smirking while reading this or researching when on earth I was born.

"Now, who wants to get me a piece of cake?"  Good old Scarlett.  

Is chivalry dead or just different?  My husband is of that same society and culture, but after years living in America by the time we got together over a decade ago, he couldn't understand my dismay when he expected me to help him move a sofa up the stairs to his new apartment or carry a heavy basket of dirty clothes down the street to the laundro-mat. (dead)  Nowadays when he leaves for work ahead of me, I am delighted by the chivalry exhibited from sending the elevator back up to our floor so I needn't wait for it. (different) Out in the freezing cold around the campfire, instead of coming to me with a cup of tea and a blanket he said, "Hmmm you should grab your heavier jacket in the tent.  Wanna use my headlamp?  You might fall in the dark." (dead again)

It's really just something I wonder about, and what I realize I need to get used to.  I have accepted that the ways of the world are markedly different from the ways they were when my mother was growing up, but like her, I do hold on to the niceties.  I am a lady after all, and still enjoy being treated as such.  A bag lady, but still a lady.

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