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Entries in friends (61)

Thursday
Mar082012

Calculus of Risk

My standard dream, when I'm wishing myself out of my current moment, is always to Run Away With The Circus.  It's a metaphor, since I can only actually juggle three balls at once (and nothing sharp or flaming) and I can't really see myself wearing spandex in front of large crowds.  But the urge to claim a more colorful, less obliged life does still surface.  More risk, more breath, more adventure: there's a part of me that hasn't really outgrown the intoxicating draw of those ideas even while I've grown into marriage, parenthood, mortgage(s).

Strange to consider reconciling that with the part of me that craves approval and credibility but we are complicated creatures, are we not?

So my friend Nell shared this with me last night, a note to which I can't give proper attribution since I don't know its origins.  But I like it:

Risks are an important part of life.  When you try to avoid risk then life becomes stagnant.  Most people avoid risk out of a sense of fear.  They want to protect their security and comfort.  The status quo, no matter how unstimulating, is preferable to most people than the risk of failure.  Avoiding risk is a sign of lack of trust in the benevolence of the universe.

Failure is actually an important aspect of growth. When you fall short, it is a good time to evaluate and commit to making the changes to grow. Those who purposefully place themselves in uncomfortable situations of risk make the most rapid growth. Living in the unknown is the most exciting and stimulating way to experience life. Be eager to take risks and push beyond your comfort zone. This is where you will discover the true joy of life.

I have a siren in my ear, urging me forward into the unknown.  A former version of myself would have burned down the barn so I could see the moon, and there's still something in me that holds a match and whispers do it do it do it.  But today I'm wondering if I could achieve the same effect by putting on a warm hat, lighting a lantern, stepping outside into the night and looking up.

Wednesday
Feb222012

Fruity Shots and Other Bad Habits

Let the record reflect that I did my taxes last night, February 22, 2012.  And since a tree doesn't make a sound in the year 2012 if it isn't recorded in social media, I mentioned it on Twitter.  To which my oldest friend replied, I'm surprised you didn't wait until April 15.

Last weekend I was complaining to Sarah about how behind I am at work.  Sarah, who signed up for the 8:30 section of Communications Law with me our senior year of college and then proceeded to spend most of the semester next to my empty chair.  Sarah, who invariably watched me sweat out a term paper in the waning hours before a deadline, if I couldn't charm my way into an extension.  Sarah, who regularly witnessed my propensity to put my boobs on the bar and bat my eyelashes just in time for free shots.  (Somewhere in Syracuse, a bartender is weeping at the realization that both I and the stale beer-smelling bar I haunted have moved on.)

The point is, I outgrew the fruity shots.  I outgrew the coquettish shtick.  I outgrew Communications Law (though probably by the skin of my teeth). 

But I'm still sporting this lamest of all lame character traits: procrastination.

You can't stand in line at the grocery story without a litany of suggestions about how to improve yourself.  Bikini Body In 10 Days!  5 Tips for a Flat Belly!  Never Have the "Bra...No-Bra?" Internal Debate Again!

But where is the Get Your Shit Together And Get It Done On Time headline?

Where is the Yeah, You're 38 and Every Cute Part of You Has Fallen or Grayed So Let's Dispense With The Game of Chicken?

Honestly I would rather share my weight or my debt-to-credit ratio here than this little nugget of shame, but I'm hoping that admitting I have a problem will help move me past it.

My name is Corinna, and I have a problem with self-discipline and procrastination.

Of course Ezra was up all night with an apparent ear infection and a bloody nose that left me looking like a mom out of a Stephen King novel.  So, um, yeah.  This whole productivity thing is probably going to have to wait until tomorrow.

Monday
Feb202012

Crash

I got rear-ended on the way to pick Ezra up from school one afternoon last week. The other driver and I pulled into the nearest parking lot to inspect the damage. She didn't speak much English and my limited Spanish is rusty at best, and particularly useless under the circumstances.  I did understand, with complete clarity, what she was saying when she looked at me nervously and asked if I was going to call the police. The damage was minor and I had no desire to get the police involved so we agreed to let our insurance companies sort it out.

The accident happened near my house, a momentary collision of two worlds. We orbit the same neighborhood, but different universes. We are hermetically sealed inside our cars, our ethnicities, our classes, but a split second of dropped guard punctured the thin membrane that separates our experiences.

---

I received word last week that the daughter of a former colleague died. She was 23, grown into young adulthood in the years since I spent time with her. The speakers at her memorial told stories of her spunk, courage and independence in the face of Muscular Dystrophy. Speaker after speaker told stories of knowing her since early childhood, or of decades-long friendships with her parents.

The service was at turns somber, funny, and reverent, inspiring in many ways. I was most moved by the evidence of the strong and supportive community in attendance, the sort of web that is always there but becomes most visible in times of either crisis or celebration.  It struck me as tanglible proof of a life well-lived.

---

I spent the weekend in the mountains with the makings of my own web. Friends I've worked with for years. Friends Will went to undergrad with, through whom we met. Orbits that intersect, over and over, and loop back in on themselves as new people get introduced to the fold. Our children are now friends.

This was an annual celebration of community one of our own throws each winter.  Food, drink, snow, merriment, an overflowing house.  The gift of time to crash into each other all over again.

Perhaps it is not a web that connects us, so much as a vascular system.  Tiny capillaries that weave through the membranes between my inside and my outside, carrying in nutrients and oxygen.  Carrying out the waste that builds up when I spend too much time in my car, or in my head.  Bringing me, crashing, into the world.

Tuesday
Feb142012

New Friend

I didn't sleep very well the night before Meghan flew in for the mini photo-camp we'd dreamed up.  Will asked, are you nervous because you don't really know her?  That wasn't why I was nervous but he had a point.  We met and hit it off at Camp Shutter Sisters last fall, and since she lives one state over it seemed easy to plan our own little photography retreat weekend.

We are very different.  Our photographic styles are different, we get charged by different subject matter, and we have different approaches to shooting.  She is drawn to vintage looks and loves the evocative feeling of old film.  I am avowedly digital and can't stop myself from overexposing everything I shoot.  But we are both groping toward a deeper understanding of our creative paths and our life paths, if such things are separable.

Between us there was that flicker of instant recognition that arises with new true friends, familiar even though you know none of their backstory.  I don't even know how you met your husband, or what your mom is like, I told her before she arrived.  These are things you know about people you feel connected to.  But then she was here, and as each new piece was revealed something small clicked into place.  You find yourself surprised and completely unsurprised all at once at how perfectly things fit together. 

This weekend comfort and discovery mingled.  I see Meghan as accomplished and brave and grounded, and all those things are true, but with each new fragment of her life she shared I appreciated further the depth of her resilience and authenticity and the power of her dreams.

She thought I seem fearless because so many of my stories featured a Corinna that was unafraid to move boldly through the world.  Of course lately I feel pinned down by fear, but hearing my own stories for the first time again is a reminder that within me there are reservoirs of chutzpah that might yet be accessible.

It was a nourishing weekend on every level, but I wasn't sad when I dropped Meghan at the airport yesterday.  I know that this budding friendship that is shiny and new now will, over time, earn the familiar well-worn patina captured by her beloved Polaroid.

Monday
Jan302012

Outtakes

Kim and Dustin, creators of the incredible DENY Designs (full disclosure: they license some of my artwork there.  Go see it!  They make beautiful home accessories), needed some new individual and family photos their PR woman could use to pitch their story.  We set up a studio in their house and shot with them and their twin two-year-old boys.  The photo above is Liam, and it's the kind of picture that makes Kim swoon and affirms my commitment to learn more about the use of supplemental light.  (You'll be hearing more about this, I feel sure.)

We also went to a nearby park where we shot more in the mode I'm used to working in: verite, in the moment, see what we get.  The boys were a wee bit under the weather and, being two, not entirely cooperative with the program their parents and I had in mind.  As I went through the pictures yesterday, I was struck by how the outtakes are my favorite part of the set.

Even when they're grumpy.

Even when you can't see anyone's face.

Even when they're clingy.

Even when they're refusing to stay put where you want them.

None of these are the nice family picture that you'd probably frame and put on your mantle.  None of them would probably be the one Grandma would want. 

But they are real.

Maybe it's because I really learned to shoot kids by shooting my own kid, and because the photos that I loved the best of him are the ones that will one day trigger a memory of what he was really like: how little his feet were, how he would rub his eyes when he was tired, how he hid screwdrivers all over the house.

I know you have to have the money shot, where everyone is looking at the camera and smiling all at once.  But the outtakes are the ones that slay me, every single time.