Archive for the ‘Memories’ Category

Creative Second Guessing

As a kid, my mom supplied me with Tinker Toys. I hated them. Flat out didn’t like it. You were just given a bunch of pieces and there was no plan to them, no already outlined end goal. I have always liked to color in the lines. ALWAYS. I liked to have things as the color they really are (pineapples should not be purple and blue. . . they are brownish yellow with green on top — as I was big on proving when I was 3).

This doesn’t mean I lack creativity. But I lack that free flowing thought process that a lot of others do have. I am not good at taking something and instantly modifying it to fit my needs or wants — cooking is not a creative process for me.

A lot of this stems from not being comfortable with the task at hand or second guessing myself. As my driving instructor would tell me, for eleventy-billionth time, “Stop second-guessing yourself, you know how to get into 2nd gear!” I’d do it every single time. I’d freak out and stall the car. Can I drive stick now? You’d better believe it. Have I done anything creative with it? Yeah, I’ve popped it into second when I started off driving instead of 1st gear and even hopped gears, but I got comfortable with the car I was driving and THEN felt I could get a bit more creative in how I was doing things. Downshifting, accelerating into curves, and learning about the sounds and feel of the car. But these things weren’t immediate questions. . .

So Tinker Toys pissed me off. I wasn’t told what to do with them, I was just urged to “make something.”  But… WHAT. . . there are NO guidelines, no ideas, and no one said, “Create a box with a wheel inside of it.” I would make things that just fit together and felt right, but I had NO idea what I was doing. I was so far outside of any comfort zone that when I was asked what I’d made, I might have a story for it, but it left me so uncomfortable that I couldn’t wait to take it down.  I was never secure in my creative process. And because of this unknowing and people doing the , “OOOOOO, that’s amazing!!” thing, I was just pissed off by it. This isn’t ‘amazing,’ it’s just a weird shape and it has no actual purpose . .  it’s just thrown together and I don’t even know WHY . . . there’s just nothing else to DO with these sticks and wheels with holes.

Legos were a bit more logical and I’d make houses with rooms and layers of things. I’d play with the little people and they’d pick flowers and have walls that were all one color. I liked the regularity and that the basic pieces worked with my thoughts. And then you had the collections where you had an end goal and a set of directions on how to build it. They were (and still are) the best. You follow the instructions and lo and behold, you’ve built the thing on the cover of the box. It isn’t … creative, but it is creating something. You are given an end goal and the means to get there. Is it more fun to create the way yourself? Perhaps. But I’m always wary, because of second guessing.

My best friends and I created a comic book when we were about 11. It was AMAZING. We came up with characters, we drew the characters, we made these powerful female characters come to life. I used a sketch my super artistic friend did to come up with my character drawings as I did not have the drawing skills my friends. My mom was our biggest champion and we all hunkered around our dining room table coming up with these characters and some story lines. It didn’t really take off, but one of these friends is bringing them back to life again. It’s magical to be part of a creative force, but I could never have done it on my own and with these friends dragging me along for the ride. In creating characters my mind would literally go blank. I had no idea where to go with it. . . no way to let the ideas out and so we teased them out of me.  . . I’m sure it was stressful for everyone else to watch me struggle.

And now I’ve started one of those DIY Planners. They have another term that has become popular, but honestly, this system isn’t a few years old. People have been creating planner/journal combos for decades and even hundreds of years. It’s not a novel concept. I’ve always ended up turning some portion of my journal into a task list or mini-calendar, but never really went much further than that. But now I’ve decided instead of spending the $18 on a 2018 Planner, I’d actually make my own with a blank book. Did I Google and read countless blogs and websites? Yup. Did I try to create a few things on my own? Sure. I’m about 2-3 weeks in (2 weeks of the actual big planner creating side of things) and I still find myself Googling everything I can to see what others have done. My biggest take home is that people keep saying, “It’s such a creative process, you can be your own unique self” and then EVERY DAMN PERSON has the same font/script scrawl. Are you all using the same “I’m unique” stencils? Seriously, what IS THIS?! So then I started to see some that didn’t have the same font and I was drawn to the weirdness, the creative, the “OMG that person can draw some SERIOUS foxes!!!” It’s daunting to see just HOW creative people have gotten but it’s also reinforced some of the ideas I’ve previously had. It’s like, “Oh… okay.. so when I started that one idea of boxes, it actually could have ended up like this if I’d just shifted the lines down a bit more.”  It helped me to see that I was on the right path, and where I got frustrated, I just needed to reassess.

I will say, the creativity of doing this myself with some inspiration (I drew out some really tiny sketches of potential weeks or months to get an idea down to see if I liked it) has been interesting. Do I think it looks nice? No. Will it get better? Oh yes. I have busted out the colored pencils, and run to the store to buy a cheap ruler (49 cents!!), a compass (yay circles!), and colored ballpoint pens. I have crayons waiting in the wings (I apparently unearthed my creative box while unpacking things, huzzah for that!).

There is something comforting about the rigidity of boxes and lines and that I actually have to put in some effort to create them – counting out the lines on the page or measurements on the ruler, doing some quick math and then putting ink to the page to make it show up. And then adding some color with my pencils. No crazy scripts, no doodles, just a bit of color and some attempts at being creative.

I look forward to pushing my comfort zone and maybe one day I will be the inspiration for an idea, rather than needing that inspiration to get out of first gear.


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** From September 2014 **

Today I, and 6 others, helped a friend load her moving truck. She is moving away to Texas and we are all really going to miss her.  It’s going to be really weird on Monday to not have her come downstairs to say hello or to talk about gardens and SI and games and Mahjong.  She’s become a huge part of my weekly routine and now that routine is gone.

Oh the flip side, seeing how organized and diligent she’s been about her move makes me want to get just as crazed and organized as she’s been. There’s so much to learn from the friends and people around you.  I forget this lesson from time to time and just wallow in my own head, but I’m trying to clean up that muck and push forward.

One organizational tip from her is to use colored duct tape on boxes, tubs, etc to mark what room it belongs in or a general hint to what it contains.  I’m currently using fluorescent orange to mark our book boxes. So far those are all the boxes I have, but we have other things already packed up that are the wrong season.  I need to make an assessment of those boxes and apply the necessary duct tape color.

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Experiences on Public Transit

Today has been a day of experiences and triggering some memories of other public transit experiences.

I guess to start off with I should say that the bus drivers here are wonderfully even keeled and put up with a lot of stuff — traffic, belligerent riders, disabilities of all walks of life, crazy pedestrians, school kids, people so focused on their phones they don’t see the world around them, etc.

My favorite driver is the one who says, “Here we go!” when pulling away from a stop. It’s the greatest. So enthusiastic.

So today started out with a crazy bus driver who was a bit brake happy and the bus was crammed with high school students. Some of who gave me that look of, “UGH.. an ADULT.” Sorry my age has messed with the enjoyment of your ride. Insert eye roll here.

I then hopped off the bus to get on the light rail and had a lovely ride in practicing my ability to not hold on to anything. Ankle strength. . . and pressure on the right part of your foot during a turn are key.

This afternoon was a different kind of experience. It started out with a fairly okay bus ride until we got near the end of town where I transfer buses.  *BANG* a window completely shattered into a million spider webs. It didn’t fall out of the frame, but the rubber seal around it was torn. We all jumped and looked from the window near the back of the bus to the driver. The bus driver went to the next stop and got on the phone to report the incident. I got off the bus to walk up to my transfer spot.

When your bus has an accident — GET OFF THE BUS. That bus is not going anywhere any time soon. They have to report the incident. You can always check with the bus driver to see if you should stay (maybe you saw something and can be a witness) or transfer to another bus.

We had a bus driver hit a parked car once when I was in high school. The road, where the accident happened, was super windy and the car was about 4 feet out from the curb so the option was to either knock off the side mirror or drive into oncoming traffic. I felt awful for the bus driver — she was one of the BEST bus drivers to handle us nightmare high school kids. She made sure we all understood that you always offer your seat to an older/disabled person. Doesn’t matter if you are in the seating at the front of the bus or not — you GET UP and you offer your dang seat. Truly one of the rare ones, because we mostly listened to her.

So thank you public transit drivers for tolerating all of us and fellow drivers on the road. You are appreciated.



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A few weeks ago I attended a concert of an artist I have tortured my mom with on a 5 1/2 hour car ride to Pittsburgh. I played ONE song over, and over, and over, and over. Occasionally I’d flip to the B side of the tape and play the first song on that side. Basically she tolerated her 8 year old’s obsession with a song she was pretty darn sick of. This repeated song made me sick of the album about 2 years later and I put the tape away. Refused to play it. Then, when I was about 16 I took it out of retirement and realized I still knew every darn word. . . of MOST of the album.

Cue to about 10 years ago when I introduced my husband (then boyfriend) to this album and he was pretty taken with how unique it was.

Cue to a few weeks ago, and I was done with the back and forth of, “should I, well, maybe not, but I could, but really??? well… okay… yes… no.. wait… REALLY!??!”  It was a moment of me saying, “You know what, screw it. People hate this artist and thing the songs are annoying, but I love them. I am going to burst into tears during my favorite song which HAD BETTER BE PERFORMED. . . *ahem*

Lo and behold, I went to the show, by myself, and sat in the back row on the arena floor. I made friends with the couple in the same row (there were 4 seats, and the one next to me was empty). They had been fans for over 20 years. I told them my story and they thought it was WONDERFUL I had decided to attend the show. I had paper towels from the ladies room, because I was going to cry. No doubt about it.

The announcer came on and said that there would be a solo artist this evening. No opener, no extra people, just… the ONE person, and the band. My husband was jealous because a favorite guitar player was in the band that night. I told him there was an empty seat next to me, he could come on down. . . but no.

So the lights went down, the music started, the backup singers did their thing, and then the door opened at the back of the stage and out came… Neil Diamond. It was possibly the best show I’ve seen in a VERY long time. His pants had sequins on the sides, like the band stripe for kids in band, only these were sequins and sparkled with every step and sway. He opened the show with Cherry, Cherry. The crowd went nuts. He did a few ballads, I lost it during He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother. Sorry people, it’s a powerful song and whatever vocal training and warm ups Neil had done, they worked. He sang it beautifully. I learned that Red, Red, Wine is a Neil Diamond song. He sang I’m A Believer, like The Monkees’ version (if you hear his original version it’s more with steel drums and sounds a bit strange to the Monkees-trained ear).

So, this song that I played over, and over and over again — Cracklin Rosie. It’s the first song on Taproot Manuscript. I had never listened to another album, even though my parents have two others. I only knew every single song on Taproot Manuscript. During the show, he did a few others from that album (He Ain’t Heavy is one). Cracklin’ Rosie was during the encore, AFTER the 12 minute version of Sweet Caroline. It felt like it went on forever, and it probably did. . . but I was anxious to hope that he’d actually perform the song I spent many of my childhood years (which culminated in that 5 1/2 hour Cracklin’ Rosie marathon) listening to and not totally getting what most of the lyrics meant. He did it. I burst out sobbing. I was so happy. He bloody did it and I finally heard a song I’ve loved since I was, as my dad would put it, a tiny tiddle-toddle.

Thank you Neil Diamond for making insanely catchy tunes.

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There has been a lot of upheaval in the world and in my life. Right now we are facing the hunt for a new place to live and THAT is just a thrill a minute. It also means the ever enjoyable job of searching for a job or getting a transfer to a new office. While I am not the biggest fan of the job hunt, it always opens my eyes to what I feel I CAN do and what I WANT to do. I’ve recently debated on being an Environmental Planner or maybe get in to Environmental Engineering.  When I was an undergraduate I debated on going to the Engineering school, but I would have been in college for about 6-7 years and that wasn’t very appealing at the time. There are some unique circumstances there that I won’t go into now.

Sometimes I sit back and wonder if the Engineering Genetics didn’t have the right idea. But I really like Conservation Biology. I believe quite strongly in it and have continually tried to pursue a job that at least touches on that field.

Environmental Planning = I can learn a lot of it on the job and don’t necessarily need more school.

Environmental Engineering = the only way is more school from what I can see.

I have actually started watching the MIT Online course for Differential Calculus. Can you guess what it starts with?  DERIVATIVES!! Okay, so I might miss math a bit. I haven’t had to actually remember any of my maths or statistics for quite some time because the jobs I have taken didn’t need those skills.


Time to go watch some Calculus classes and see if I still want to keep going down the road of a career change.

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Razor Unwanted

While I was in the shower today I had a thought — I only shaved my legs for 7 years. I started in July when I was 15 and stopped by the time I was 22. It wasn’t worth the cuts, porcupine spine hairs and skin irritations. I don’t have the world’s darkest or robust leg hair so it isn’t like I can compete in a Wookie Fur competition.

I had a Mani/Pedi before my brother-in-law’s wedding and the salon guy gave me all kinds of grief over how I don’t shave my legs. Not shaving your legs isn’t unclean or filthy or even lazy. Hats off to the millions of ladies that do this every other day with whatever method they prefer, but it isn’t something I care to deal with. If I were a competitive swimmer I’d feel different. It’s like having short nails.  I have short nails because I played the piano for about a decade as a kid and cutting them was trained into me. You can’t play the piano with nails — I tried.

We all make our life choices and do what feels right for ourselves. Some of us live for denim and a t-shirt, others want monthly Mani/Pedis. I enjoy wandering past the makeup section of Macy’s and no one gives me a second glance. Now I will admit to enjoying wandering the shops and looking at all the dresses, shoes, purses and jewelry. . . I’ve spent hours doing just that, but my wardrobe certainly shows the less girl side of things.

Now excuse me while I go put on my ball cap and flannel shirt to go enjoy the evening air.

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Late on the Band Wagon

Like many movies, I just never saw My Girl. I knew about it, I remember the previews, I remember everyone going to see it and saying it was sad. I remember My Girl 2 coming out and still not seeing it. I just didn’t want to. Well, I’ve now seen My Girl and promptly burst into tears during the scene when she just wants him to wear his glasses. I am really pleased with how well they did the whole ‘confronting death’ for her. It wasn’t easy to watch, I burst into tears and sniffled my way through the rest of the movie. It covers a lot of what someone could really go through when facing death.

I haven’t lost a best friend that way, but if I had I’m sure I’d have felt like running to the doctor and asking for the pain to stop too. Thankfully I still have my best friends and the pain of losing them is something I have yet to deal with. We all face it at some point in some way. By the time I was 11 I probably felt overwhelmed by death — pets, Farfar, a classmate in 1st Grade, church members, possibly even a neighbor too.

I am really glad that there are movies out there that deal with real experiences and real emotions without making them a huge deal. It’s a refreshing take from how a lot of movies are done today — everything is over the top and angst-filled. We don’t need to have that kind of sensationalism. Real life is full of pains and joys, why make it something so over the top that you can’t imagine it’s real or that reality is somehow lessened because the musical score and EPIC moment didn’t happen. Imagination is a powerful thing and we shouldn’t discount it, but we also don’t need to feed it to the point of gluttony.

Does imagination have a glutton-setting? I don’t know, sometimes it feels like it. When your brain can’t handle any more of it and you can’t make it stop and it just keeps going and going and going and you want to scream but you can’t because it’s just your brain and no one else can see what’s going on in the movie screen behind your eyes.

To come back to the point, I am very glad to have my friends and to have seen this movie.

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