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Entries in work (8)


Fluid Dynamics

I came home from the airport to discover a for-sale sign in the neighbors' yard.  They moved in when their first-born and Ezra were both infants and since then we've spent countless summer afternoons on the sidewalk in front of our houses watching them crawl, then toddle, then bike back and forth.  They have a million good reasons to move and I understand them all.  But I still feel short of breath thinking of them going.

This week Ezra and I will walk into the school where he will start Kindergarten for our first family meet-and-greet.  Will and I agonized over whether to move him from the school he's attended since he was 8 months old but determined that he is ready for the challenge of a new environment.  I get weak in the knees when I think of school supplies and new sneakers and the rhythm of the school year.

Whispers in the halls at the office, growing in volume over weeks to a deafening white noise that underlies everything else, about mergers and acqusitions.  We were a smallish business when I started here but no more.  If we have fattened into the kind of tasty morsel that looks irresistible to a deep-pocketed corporate investor, that's a win I suppose, but not without attendant anxiety. 

Suddenly it seems currents of change swirl around me, and I wonder if I can park myself in an eddy and wait it out.  It's strange, because for some time I've felt the tension of a powerful surge growing up behind the dam of my life's predictability.  Feeling it would break and unleash some kind of furious shift in the world as I know it.  Now I suffocate in the unknowing. 

I am deeply unsettled.  I hone to a razor's edge my hardest questions about whether I've made the right choices and hold them to the light.  It's strange that even these predictable things - neighbors move, children grow, businesses do business - trigger shifts that feel seismic.  My wish: to befriend the unknowing, to call in synchronicity, to breathe.


Lottery Dreams

Some of my favorite moments from the last few weeks of my iPhone 365 (+1) projectI like to think that I'm in touch with the zeitgeist, if not the actual current events of the day (since, you may recall, I turned off the news last year in an effort to retain my tenuous grip on sanity).  One byproduct of this willful ignorance is that I have become the human version of the "water cooler," which is to say that if it's big enough news that people talk about it around me it's probably Very Big News Indeed.  Big like, say, a $540 million jackpot.

I'm not much of a lottery player since I never have cash and also am not lucky in that random-drawing kind of way.  But a co-worker put together a lottery pool in the office yesterday and I figured whatthehell?  It's not like I want to be the lone employee left at the office if all my colleagues are suddenly raptured by the Mega Millions.

Like untold thousands of Americans yesterday, I then embarked on daydreaming about what I would do with my share of the office loot.  The first thing I noticed was that I don't want to change much.  My life is already filled with so much beauty that I wonder how I could possibly deserve it all.  Sure, I would probably trade in my 8-year-old car on something with fewer random rattles.  I would be happy to know that Ezra's college savings fund would be more, er, robust than it currently is.  I would definitely pursue my long-time dream of designing and building a custom home, but still in the neighborhood where I now live.  While I would likely quit my job, I certainly can't imagine a life that doesn't include work.  I love to work, I get satisfaction and meaning from my labor.  I guess I would just be more selective about the projects I undertake.

I would buy that new Nikon D800 I've been salivating over. 

And the 24-70mm 2.8 lens. 

I would push this dream of becoming an artist. 

I would act like someone who could not fail.

These thoughts crossed my mind and then I realized, I don't have to win half-a-billion dollars to do those things.  I am already cultivating my artist life.  I am already saving for the D800.  I could choose, today, to act like someone who can not fail.  If I could manage that, imagine the authentic meaning it would bring to my life.

I know I'm probably underestimating the psychic impact that being suddenly catapulted into the 1% would bring.  I might suddenly be turned into Gollum, corrupted and covetous of things that now barely ping my radar.  And on the infinitesimal chance that our numbers come up tonight, I'll be happy to take the opportunity to prove myself under those circumstances.

But noticing that my dreams don't require that kind of luck is its own kind of win.  Talent, work, and chutzpah?  Yeah, I'm going to need a whole lot of those.  But at least those are the things I don't have to leave to random chance.


Staring at the Sun

I notice that you shoot into the sun a lot, he said after we finished the portrait session.  I mean, more than I probably would if I was shooting.

Here's a dirty little secret about me: there's part of me that still craves everyone's approval and doesn't trust my own insticts.  He didn't mean it as a criticism, just an observation.  But I found myself stammering.

Er, uh, yeah.  I dunno.  It looks nice?

This is one of my least favorite things about myself these days, this craving to be approved or ordained as credible, instead of trusting from the inside what I know or that I am enough.  I feel so strongly that my work right now is (among other things) to step into confidence.

When I uploaded the pictures from my SD card I saw these.  And I thought, yeah.  I like to shoot into the sun.  I have to find a better way to talk about that.

So this is me, practicing:

I like to shoot into the sun because I love the way it can blow out the edges between the subject and the world.  I like to shoot into the sun because I can stretch bubbles of light across the frame.  I like to shoot into the sun because it offers so many opportunities to play with light and shadow.  I like to shoot into the sun because I tend to like images that are overexposed and dripping in light.  I like to shoot into the sun because it can drench every frame in a dreamy, hazy mood. 

And also, I like to shoot into the sun because, er, it looks nice.


And Finally, The Point

I was going somewhere with all this about meditation and cupcakes

Though I got permission from a colleague to blame the holidays for the grinding unease that has settled on me, I think this is more like Day 5 of Vipassana.  The moment where I realized that I had the feeling I was searching for, and then promptly blew it away with the immediate clutching, grasping, craving.

In the midst of the World's Longest Uninterrupted Good Mood (see also, September and October) I got the feeling of riding along on a flow of inspiration.  Not just riding it or letting it flow through me, but actually being made of it.  It sounds kind of silly as I type this, but I actually thought I had crossed over into some new way of being in the world.  I thought I had found my way into some secret space that only people more actualized than me already knew about.

Well I didn't. 

Or that place doesn't exist, and what is true is that sometimes you're in the flow and sometimes you're out of it but either way there's no use flailing about or clutching.  It's liquid, after all, and it slips through your fingers.  Better to just relax and point your feet downstream and float it while you can.  That's my current theory anyway.

So here I am washed up on the banks, a little bit bruised from flailing on the rocks.  But the grinding unease finally reminded me

chew the cupcake chew the cupcake chew the cupcake chew the cupcake chew the cupcake chew the cupcake chew the cupcake

I'm trying. 

This one's three and determined lately to bend me to his will, but he's eminently chewable.

This one's been remarkably patient with me during the end of the Good Mood. 

This is my job, good work that is its own reward. 

This is me, chewing, somewhere in the struggle to just pause, in the moment, instead of rushing forward or leaning backward.  Considering what it would take to see patience as a belief that all things happen in their right time.


On Becoming an Artist

I have never thought of myself as an artist.  A creative, yes.  But perhaps more of a creative technician, taking other people's visions and breathing life into them.  I remember talking to my father years ago about what artists are (he knows a lot of them) and he said, well, I know this: an artist is somebody who creates because they can't not create.

Hmmm...  Seems true, I thought.  But it doesn't sound like me.

Part of doing creative work that's client-based, which is what I do professionally, is that you learn not to get too attached to it.  There comes a point in every project where you have to let your vision go in support of their vision.  They're the client.  It's their baby at the end of the day.

But this idea of being an artist still tugged at me.  Do you think of yourself as an artist? I asked a colleague I love and respect, on a work trip one night at a hotel bar in suburban Houston.  I was surprised when he said yes.  I felt so far away from that.

I started taking pictures and, at some point, began to think of myself as someone who takes pictures.  The word photographer still got stuck in my throat.  But something happened as I neared the end of my 365 project, and as I was putting together my video and looking back through the pictures I thought huh, it looks like a photographer made this.

I didn't have time to take any pictures last week, and by the time the weekend rolled around I felt like a caged animal.  I just needed to take my camera and go on a walk.  Maybe that's a sign.  I told Kim Klassen that I'm tip-toeing up to permission to think of myself as an artist.  She got very excited, and pointed me to this post in which she writes about her experience of becoming an artist.  She says that being an artist introduced her to a world in which anything was possible.  I thought yeah, I want that to be me!

I talked to my friend Kelly, an artist in Austin, yesterdayI said, I think I might be becoming an artist.

WHAT??? she said. You are already an artist.  I have known this forever.  I am the creator and president of the Corinna-is-an-amazing-artist fan club!  I'm SO GLAD you've finally decided to join us.

I don't know if Kelly is creating membership cards for this club, but if she does, I imagine they'll look something like this:Jen Lemen gave us these at Camp, but I didn't know what to ask permission for yet.I don't know how my life will change when I cross over into being an artist, but I feel like I'm right there, oh so close and I can almost taste it.


Any of you guys want to give me a hint?  If you're an artist, what does it mean to you?  Is it important to see yourself that way?  What happens when you claim that identity?