Sick Cat : Part Two 

Monday morning. I woke up after a fitful sleep with barely enough time to get the cat to her appointment to the vet. I was groggy and not full awake when the phone rang. It was the vet. He said he had "terrible news." I sighed. I knew that this was one of the possible outcomes of the blood work tests he had performed on Saturday. I had just allowed myself to hope that the vet would be able to perform the miracle I wanted and stop the cat's pain and make her feel better.

I listened to the vet rattle off a series of numbers that proved that the cat's kidneys had been irreparably damaged by some sort of chemical she presumably ingested, but after the phrase "terrible news," I really wasn't paying any more attention. I thought about my experiences with the cat outside, feeding her, watching her lounge in the farmyard, hearing her meow at me. When I became aware that the vet had stopped talking, I asked him what he thought would cause such a thing to happen. He said that it was more than likely anti-freeze. The cat needed to be put down. Anything else would prolong her suffering. He said that he could euthanize her any time I brought her down to the animal hospital.

I hung up the phone, and despite feeling groggy, got dressed and located the cat. She was resting in the hallway. During the past 48 hours, the hallway had become her favorite place to rest. I knew that because I had been checking up on her several times during those two days. She seemed to have more energy, and was eating a bit more, and drinking a lot more. The vet later told me that this might be a result of the fluids he had given her during our last visit. I felt overwhelmingly bad, but lacking a miracle kidney repair spell, what else could I do? I picked her up and held her close to my chest for as long as she could stand it.

I put the cat in my car while I searched again for the cat carrier I couldn't find before. This time I was luckier. I found it in the barn hidden under a plastic bag that I had not noticed before. I managed to fish the cat out of the backseat of my car and put her in the carrier with a threadbare towel for comfort. She was compliant enough, and was even purring as I placed her insider the carrier and then put the carrier on the passenger seat of my car.

The trip to the vet took a little too long because there was road work being done on street to the vet. My car was stopped by a young flagger with a long beard. I wasn't sure if he could see the carrier through the windshield of my car. The cat was becoming a little restless inside her carrier. I poked my fingers inside the gate screen to comfort her, and she obliged the offer by rubbing her face against them.

During this time, I was in a sort of denial. I thought that there might be a chance that the cat could recover somehow. Maybe if I gave her more attention, fed her more rigorously, gave her more time to rest, the cat just might be able to recover. This cat had been nearly as strong as an ox in her healthier days, so I reasoned that if there was any cat that could overcome this problem, it would be her. The possibility of the cat's recovery was all I could think off during our drive to the animal hospital.

The wait in the lobby was short as we were the first patients of the day. The vet tech led me into the examining room and told me that the vet would be in shortly. I let the cat out onto the examining table and began to pet her. She was purring. It was frustratingly sad to have to do this, and I couldn't help shake my head. The cat explored the table, and at one point even wanted to jump down to the floor. Instead of letting her jump, I put her on the floor so she could walk around down there.

The vet came in and I asked my questions about her possible recovery. The answer, explained in a wave of jargon, was no. If she was a human being, she would need regular kidney dialysis treatments, but they did not do that for cats. He said that the best he could do would be to put off the inevitable for several more days by giving the cat another fluid shot. But, in either case, the cat was going to die.

Not the answer I wanted to hear.

I held the cat again, and made the difficult decision. He brought in a blanket and gave her a shot of sedatives. When she was asleep, he came back in and gave her the final shot.

I told him that I would be taking her back with me so I could bury her behind the barn, essentially her home for the last couple of years. Whenever I thought of her, inevitably it was at or near the barn.

I placed her body in the towel, put it in the carrier, and drove it back. I found the shovel and walked out into the pasture and the morning's rising sun. I did not want to be doing this. It seemed like such an unnecessary shame. A younger cat, only about a year old, followed me through the field and sat in the tall grass as I dug a whole in a hard and dry ground. It was tough work, but eventually, I had a hole deep enough for her to lay in. I gently wrapped her body in the towel she had been sleeping on and buried her.

After I filled the hole, I sat with the other cat for several minutes and thought about mortality. As I get older, I find that life is over far too quickly. It feels deeply unfair, and this particular death seemed especially unfair. The cat died before her time. I hope that I get my own life sorted out to a reasonable sense of emotional equilibrium and financial stability before I have to leave this world. Leave this world like we all must do at some point. A point, that, as far as I am concerned, is very much in the distant future.

16 September 2009

Sick Cat 

Every morning has it rituals, even if your life, like mine, is in a kind of disorder. One of my morning rituals is to take a little walk on the back walkway, which would essentially be a porch in any other home, but as this home is a confabulation of lower class architectural styles, it defies easy categorization. It is a brief walk, but comforting for its familiarity. Over there, for example, is the same barn, same little fence, same stand of trees, etc. Some people have their morning coffee; I have this little walk.

However, it was during Saturday morning's walk that my eyes fell on a cat that looked like it had crawled out from underneathe a rock. Its fur had lost its luster, its eyes had a rheumy non-focus, and its walk had the deliberate uncertainty of creature trying very hard not to fall over. I had seen this cat during the past week, and even then, I noted it looked like it was ill. Yet, this particular morning was something else altogether. The cat appeared to be deteriorating quickly. When another cat, an animal that, if it were human, could easily be described as a real jerk, lunged at the sick cat in the opening move of an attack, the ill cat did not react. It continued its sad walk towards the food bowl in the backyard with the singular focus of someone who is very ill. The attacking cat was confused for the non-reaction and sat suddenly still trying to puzzle the situation out for itself.

I had earlier debated about whether or not the sick cat needed to visit the vet. The thing that held me back was the cost. As a poor person, my money might be better spent on food and healthcare for myself rather than the cat. I had hoped my attention, a fresh can of cat food, and some rest would be all the cat needed to recover. However, looking at the cat that morning removed all doubt. This cat was dying, and I couldn't face myself if I ignored her plight. It seemed immoral to not help out.

I knew there was a strong chance that if I took her to the vet that morning, the vet might tell me that she was dying and there was nothing he could do for her, and oh by the way, that will be fifty bucks. However, if there was a chance he could lessen her pain, then it was worth a shot.

I scooped the animal up and put her in my car. I could not find the cat carrier for the life of me, and as this was Saturday, if waited any longer, the vet would close and I would have to wait a weekend that the cat may not have. The drive further convinced me that I was making the right choice. If this cat were healthy, she would have climbed all around the cab of the car, on the dashboard, into the back seat, probably even in my lap or by the pedals at my feet. As it was, she curled up in a little ball in the passenger's seat and lay there for the entire trip.

Her biggest reaction during all of this was in the lobby of the vet's office, where a dog the size of a pony happily barked at us. The cat, using claws sharpened from frequent outdoor use of course, tried desperately to climb out of my arms and onto the safe space on my shoulders directly behind my head. The dog owner, taking note of my painful problem, fortunately directed his son to take the dog outside so the cat could calm down. Once the dog was outside, she settled down into my lap as we waited our turn for the vet to call us into the examining room.

The visit with the vet was brief enough. He confirmed her dire condition to me, and while he was not ready to diagnose her without having blood work done first, he gave her a shot and some fluids before sending her home with me. She has another visit with the vet on Monday morning. All of twenty minutes later, I was $170 dollars poorer.

Fortunately, for the rest of Saturday and all of Sunday, the cat seems to be doing better. She is still very skinny, but her appetite seems to be returning, and she has been drinking plenty of water, something I hadn't noticed her doing before. Tomorrow will be part two of the sick cat saga that at some point I might document here in this blog.

Even though it is still possible that I will have spent over 200 dollars on a cat that will die anyway, I think, at least for the benefit of my conscience, I did the right thing. The animal was suffering and it was in my power to do something about it. The cat has a nice personality and is way too young to be dying of so-called natural causes. And, someday, I hope to have enough money in my bank account to not have to worry about whether I can afford to do the right thing. Apparently, one of the lessons in life is that doing the right thing is not always in our control.

14 September 2009

Sleeping Wrong 

I am not sleeping the way I should be. I go to sleep around 1 a.m. most nights, wake up at 10 a.m., and then take a nap in the middle of the afternoon. The nap is a recent occurrence of the past two days. You would think that nine hours of sleep would be enough, but then again, those nine hours are pretty restless. One night, I woke up at least ten times, tossing and turning. Other nights, I am awoken by the cat around four a.m. because she needs to be let outside.

Today was hot, at least 90 degrees, which made my afternoon nap more unpleasant than refreshing. I did wake up with more energy, but I had a metallic taste in my mouth and was very thirsty. I need to eat and exercise better to improve my health, but my mood makes finding the motivation to do either very hard. On the other hand, I have not being feeling 100% physically aside from the problems I just mentioned. I had a weird phlegmy cough that made me think that on top of everything else, I might be coming down with a cold or something.

But all of this: the not eating right, the not feeling well, the not getting things done is just a sideshow to the thoughts about college and my future. Of course, I am talking about two futures, the imagined one of five years ago, and the real one. The first future is the failed one. I had imagined that I would be successful as an English Professor and that, by now, I would be well on the way to publishing papers in literary journals, grading freshman essays, and doing my best to achieve the financial security I imagined for myself. The reality is that I am back in school trying for another career path that has a lot of similarities to the other failed one, except this time I am questioning my ability to achieve the new one in light of my past failures.

I had been telling myself that the reason I did not become an English Professor was largely a combination of circumstances and bad luck. If I made a few decisions that slightly altered things as they were, I would be in an office, pouring over those essays. But now, the benefit of experience, combined with my ill mood, makes me think the problem lies "not in the stars," so to speak, but in myself. Maybe it is a defect in my ambition. I seem to want more than I can realistically achieve. Therefore, I over-extend myself emotionally and financially, only to collapse into a heap of failure, paralyzing my will or ability to get on my feet again. Maybe there really is a physical source to my issues. Maybe, due to brain chemistry, I am not as equipped or able to gracefully navigate the world of social interactions the way a "normal" person might. I don't know.

I spend most of the day either thinking about such things or trying not to think of them. The latest worry is a form of concern about getting older. My youth is fading and that is becoming daily more apparent. I can appreciate the wisdom of age, but sometimes, that is cold comfort in our culture, where youth is sometimes seen as the highest moral virtue.

12 September 2009

Daily Frustrations 

Today was much like the day before. I did not post yesterday like I had planned, but I already can't remember what I did yesterday, so posting about it now would be pretty pointless. I helped my mom out today around dinner time. Dad isn't here and she gets a little lost without him. Dad is taking a vacation on the east coast to visit family, so I am doing some of the things that he normally does: loading the dishwasher, corralling the pets, getting the mail, etc.

I still need to clean up my place. There is a bunch of clutter lying around that makes it harder to get all of the work I planning to do done.

I know that I should write more here about what I did during my day, and while there are a few things that I could talk about--like my trip to walmart or the grocery store--I really can't seem to justify the purpose of doing so. There isn't an artistic meaning to what I do during the day. Mostly, I try not to think too hard about things, hoping that, somehow, the mystery of life and the whirlwinds of unbidden thought will suggest to me a new way of thinking that will provide the renewed spirit I guess I am seeking. If I think about the larger questions in my life and look at my actions as if I was an outsider to myself, it feels as if I was moving underwater.

I am frustrated with things without a logical reason for being frustrated. I am told that my issues are essentially a question of brain chemistry and DNA, and therefore, it seems a little fated. If I am made that way, what hope is there for permanent change? I can take pills, but there are permanent issues with that too. There are things that are unchangeable about my physiology.

Part of the answer for me might lie with reading more literature, as in the classic English literature sense. Yes, this might be escapism. But it is one of the few things that gives my mind something interesting to think about, and because each work has an artistic purpose, it makes the thinking seem worthwhile.

I don't know what else to say here. I am tired again. I still need to do several things in the next few days: check the school schedule for the details on my fall classes, fold my laundry, work on those photos, get my hair cut, and clean up this cluttered room.

10 September 2009

Tired Again 

Since I posted this morning, I'm not going to spend a lot of time posting tonight. I spent much of the day on the computer again, and in that digital world, I made some progress that made the game a bit less stale than before.

In the real world, I think I am coming down with an illness of some kind. My joints and head ache, and I've been coughing occasionally. I am not sure what I have yet, and I can't be convinced that whatever I have is a result of my junk food diet. Perhaps, I only have a case of the physical blahs.

The biggest point of progress I made today was, aside from visiting with my family members, I did some laundry. I'm out of clean clothes at the moment, so a fresh batch of clothes is a bit necessary. I turned off the television for the majority of the evening, and I found that the night passed a little more slowly. I was feeling tired by nine thirty or so. I should have went to be at 10:00 p.m., but some habits are hard to break.

I will try to get more accomplished tomorrow, including those pictures that are dogging me. The barrier at this point is money, but I think I can overcome it to a degree. Tomorrow, my dad gets ready to leave for his trip to the east coast. He will spend a week and half there, so I will need to help my mom out with a lot of things including keeping all of the cats fed. That's all I can think of right now. I am too tired to keep writing at the moment.

08 September 2009

Rescuing the Man in the Fire 

Last night's dream was pretty emotional, so rather than wait until tonight before recounting it, I figured I should get it down now, just after having woke up. Already, I have forgotten some of it.

I am at the scene of a pretty intense fire. A fire that is raging through some apartments in Greece. Everything is pretty chaotic, but I note a man is stuck out on a balcony. I want to rescue him, and because there is a sloping wall that comes really close to his balcony, I think I can. However, the firemen at the scene (the man on the balcony also happens to be a fireman) don't want people getting close for safety reasons. I stand helplessly and watch. Soon, the building deteriorates in the blaze. The firemen haven't gotten to him in enough time to rescue him. The wire railing of the balcony pulls away from the building as the bolts come out of the wall and the concrete flooring he is standing on begins to sag. The balcony slips off from the building, and the man dies in the fire.

Seven years pass, and I still think about the tragedy of the fire often. It is a painful memory that feels like a loss for me as much as anyone. Yet, somehow, through the reading I have been doing, I have figured out a way to travel back in time, even though the time travel will come at some personal cost. For instance, I will lose all the close friendships and relationships of the present. I might be able to rebuild them as I grow back through time, but that is uncertain. One can only travel back in time, not travel forward. Even though it will be a sacrifice to go back, I know I have to do it. For me, there really is no other choice.

So, I go back seven years in time to the scene of the fire. It is just as terrible as it was before. I see the same distraught man on the balcony, but instead of hanging back as the firemen want me to, I directly go over to him. I calmly put a ladder between the wall and the balcony so it works as a bridge and pull the man over to me. He is so grateful he can barely function, and soon after I have rescued him, the entire building collapses. He is in tears and somewhat injured, but he is deliriously happy to be alive. I am soon hailed as a hero in the Greek Press.

I gain a very small amount of fame in Greece, but soon, he gets on with his life, as do I with mine. It turns out, aside from being a fireman, he is also an artist. As I have saved his life, I have become a "friend of the family," so we remain in contact to a degree. His family is as grateful to me for saving him as he is.

At one point after the fire, his friend shows me some of his art, which is stored in large drawers at the library. Technically the art is near perfect. The brush stokes are interesting, the shading is perfect gradated, etc. But, despite of its technical achievements, the art has the strange quality of being devoid of real meaning or merit. It is like the soul has been removed from it, but I chalk that up to his "not knowing" how to create this rather than his being "unable" to do it. I suggest to his friend that he tells the man to think of his dreams and try to figure out the emotional logic of them. If he can tap into the problems presented by his dreams, he can represent them in his art and thereby become a much better artist. His friend tells me that he will pass along the message. Shortly thereafter, I wake up.

07 September 2009

Sunday Bird 

Last night's dream was a little weird. The streets were being flooded with water, and for some reason, there were a lot of lions and tigers that were being displaced by it. They lounged like lions and tigers do on the concrete walls and stairs of the city as I crowded into my apartment room and watched them warily from the large living room windows.

I did not get up at decent hour like I had planned, but instead slept in again until 11:00 a.m. However, I didn't stay in bed like I had the day before. I got up, ate breakfast, and eventually took a shower before surfing on the computer.

Yes, I did spend a lot of my time in the world of Azeroth, but not as much as yesterday. I did a few dailies and helped a friend with some quests, but for the most part, I was bored. This game is offering me fewer and fewer surprises. I could start over with a new character, but I think that the game is going to be stale for me until the release a new patch or until the new expansion comes out. Being bored with this silly game may not actually be a bad thing though. I think it will give me more time and motivation to work on some personal art projects as a way of entertaining myself.

During the afternoon, I was feeling really tired, perhaps due to low blood sugar. I didn't have a lunch today. Anyway, I had dream when I took my nap. I was with my girlfriend and she was playing a pachinko like game where you rolled a single ball bearing on a large table. You had about five or them to roll, and if they rolled in the right spots, you won some money. There were a couple of spots that represented cards, like ace, queen, and king, but for the most part, there were spots that represented amounts of money, like five hundred or fifteen hundred dollars.

When I woke up, I went outside for a little break and I saw a large ring necked pheasant in the driveway. At first, I thought it was a duck, that was until I saw the large feathers on its hind end and recognized it for what it was. It meandered out of the driveway and on to what I assume were better places to forage for snacks. Essentially, I went off to do the same.

After dinner, I returned to the Internet. I am finding television less and less satisfying these days as there isn't much to stimulate my mind, and the mindless shows that keep me company are becoming increasingly more mindless and less easy to withstand. I enjoy the occasional art show, science documentary, or political roundtable (if done right). I also like watching the creator driven cartoons on the kid's channels for the artistic creativity they employ. I imagine kids watch them for the manic craziness, and while I appreciate some of that too, it's also fun to look at stuff like the designs of the backgrounds or the color schemes. In a way, it's like watching a moving watercolor.

Yet, tonight, there really wasn't anything I found I could enjoy watching, so I turned the television off and surfed around the net and listened to the Internet radio. There was an interesting article about a famous photographer that I read online. The insights it gave on the high art world of new york photography was what I found most interesting. I know that in my humble design program at school, no-one will ever get to similar heights even though nearly every eighteen-year-old art student secretly harbors those ambitions. Forgive my cynicism when I say that colleges are adept at selling hope to those who can barely afford it.

I am not sure what tomorrow will bring. I know I need to look up my schedule of classes for the fall term. I also should clean up my room to the best of my ability. If I make it out of the house again, I will consider that a bonus. Finally, regarding the photos I took yesterday, I think a handful of them came out not-terrible-looking. Still, I made a huge mistake. I had the shutter speed set way too high. That is why if you look at my photos, like the one in this post, you can see a lot of "grain." During my previous camera outing, I must have turned up the shutter speed to take a few pictures in low light. And, I forgot to really check my settings when I pulled my camera out for this latest photo trip, ugh. I could have also used a telephoto lens to get better pictures of the egrets, but as I have no money for such things, that will have to wait.

Egrets and Pelicans 

I stayed up way too late tonight. I am tired, but I needed to write in my blog before I hit the hay. Today was not a big bust on productivity even though it seemed to start out that way. I went to bed at a decent hour the night before, about midnight. However, I managed to sleep until 11:00 a.m., and then I stayed in bed surfing on the computer for another two hours. Usually when I surf the net first thing when I wake up, I am reading design blogs, the opinion pages on the online newspapers, or looking up things on wikipedia.

Today, there was a really interesting article in the New York Times about Ikea's decision to switch typefaces in their print catalog. They had been using Futura, a very nice choice, and decided to switch to Verdana. Most of the response from design types was that this was a crazy choice. I have to say that I do think that the typeface is unfortunate, especially since Verdana was designed primarily for a computer screen, but some of the people objecting come off sounding like real art snobs. I saw similar things happen in my writing classes when I was getting my English major. Some felt that grammar served the needs of creativity first, while others, a majority of others it should be said, felt passionately that the rules shouldn't be broken, ever. They might later claim that a true artist can break rules whenever they felt like it, but in practicality, they heap scorn on the unknown innovators, good and bad alike.

I woke up from a dream where I was interviewing a cowboy named Cole at a Western themed restaurant. We were at a corner booth discussing the details of the movie and stunts that needed to be shot. There was a scene in which a cowboy leaps into a bullring, but when it was filmed, the stuntman injured his back, so we had to have a meeting to discuss how to avoid that kind of thing from ever happening again. There was much more to this dream, but I could only remember the last few scenes of it.

The productive part of my day came in the afternoon. Remember yesterday when I said that I wanted to take pictures? Well, as you can see from this post, I did it. I drove to Baskett Slough after feeding myself some lunch and shopping for razors at Walmart. It was a spur of the moment kind of thing, and the deciding factor was my noting that the storm clouds were beginning to clear up a little so the rain had stopped. I knew that Baskett Slough would be closing for the winter season, so I wanted to see it before that happened.

I surprised a bunch of Egrets at the little pond where they congregate. They moved from the side of the pond where I had parked my car towards the farther end to where it was harder to see them. They moved rather gracefully, and for the most part were quiet, except for a guttural honking noise they made once or twice. An elderly man and what I assume was his middle-aged son stopped near my car and used their binoculars to look at "the pelicans." I am not a bird person, but I am pretty sure pelicans are something else all together. Shortly after they arrived, I got back in my car and drove over to the hiking trail. The hike was nice, but the fact that I was out of shape was soon brought home to me as I trudged up the hill. Fortunately, there was bench halfway up that provided me when a few minutes rest so I could catch my breath and move on towards the viewing stand at the summit. I took many pictures as I went along, including a few of myself that only seemed to show me how old I was looking these days. My hair is much more thinner than I want it to be, and there are noticeable wrinkles around my eyes as I squint in the sun. Despite all of this, I enjoyed my hike. I should do things like that more often so my body doesn't have the terrible reaction it did.

I made it back home around 4:00 p.m. There was a health survey in the mail for me from a college doing a statewide study. I indicated that except in the rare instance, I don't get any healthcare, primarily because I cannot afford it and don't have health insurance. The mail will pick up my responses on Tuesday since the mailperson won't show up again until then.

For the rest of the night, I spent my time watching television, adventuring in the digital world of azeroth, and later, when there was nothing on television that I cared to watch, I listened to the radio. I saw the new remake of the "Get Smart" movie that, although mostly dumb, I found it a bit entertaining.

After I post this blog entry, I will read for a few minutes in bed before falling to sleep. I'd still reading the Paula Scher design book, "Make it Bigger." I'm enjoying it tremendously, and at some point on this blog, I should write about what I thought of it and why I liked it. Hopefully, I will not sleep in tomorrow morning for as long as I did today. That is a bad habit that will definitely have to be broken by the time school starts.

06 September 2009

Fridays of Indolence 

Today was mostly a waste. I did not get out of my chair for much aside from a break to stretch my legs outside, to feed the cats who were prowling around their food bowl, and take a late afternoon shower. I should have done much more, but I was really tired when I woke up this morning and thought I should wait until I had more energy. Unfortunately, the energy I was waiting for didn't come until about six p.m. when it was really too late to do anything of real importance.

The dream I had during the night was the most interesting part of my day. For some reason, I was in Japan, either as a tourist, or as an English teacher. I did not have many friends there, but I did get out of the apartment a lot and walked through the city and into the city parks when I could. There was a nice modern park along the river with broad white concrete walkways and a pedestrian bridge that stretched across it. At one point in my dream, I found that if I jumped into the breeze at the right moment and threw my arms behind me, I could glide about twenty or so feet above the ground for a really long time. It wasn't flying exactly, but it wasn't merely jumping really high either.

I went to the park to practice this pseudo gliding as much as I could. It was hard to control at some points. I remember clutching and then breaking a high tree branch to both prevent my crashing into the tree or my drifting off out of control into the sky. I think I was afraid that if I got too good at this, I might not be able to get back on the ground. I jump glided above a few people's apartment courtyards and saw a kitten or two among the clotheslines and cramped sidewalks. Most of the people in the apartment block I was staying at and flying over were fellow foreigners.

Now back at the park again, I continued to jump glide. I noticed that I was wearing a weird robe like shift with African-Dashiki-like embroidery along the collar. My hair was down around my shoulders. It was about this time that I woke up.

Back in the waking world, like I said, I did not do much the entire day. I drank way too much root beer and ate a bunch of leftovers. I listened to podcasts on Itunes again as I played computer games. I thought about the friends I should be calling to see what they were up to. I also considered going out for a drive a few times, but I couldn't find a real motivating reason why I should do either. As this is a holiday weekend, the roads would be way crowded and probably not worth the hassle.

There wasn't much on television. I find that it is getting hard for me to watch television without becoming a little irritated at what superficially appears to be going on in the world. I am beginning to suspect that what is being presented on television is an increasingly distorted view of the world and its interests. Of course, I always knew that television distorted things (*I mean, as a former English Major, I could go on and on about the construction of narrative and the editorial aspects of merely choosing what to show and not to show), and yet, it seems to me the distortions of television are getting worse. When the nightly news consists primarily of stories about the misbehavior of celebrities, I get a little depressed. If the popular version of history is to be believed, there was a time when the news told people about what the editors deemed civically important to know, not necessarily what they thought would increase ratings and thereby sell commercials and increase their profits.

Tomorrow should be a little better for me. Among the many things that I would like to do eventually is take more photographs with my camera. I've not taken many pictures lately, and I want to change that. A picture in these posts would certainly break up the wall of text I've been producing lately.

05 September 2009

Talking to Yourself in the Street 

(Just a side note before launching into today's post: the previous entry on this particular blog was number 200. It's sort of amazing to think that I have been doing this blogging thing for as long as all that. My other blog is even longer at post 325, my first blog that began over six years ago. I know that six years is not a very long time in most contexts, but compared to who I felt I was then to now, it feels like forever.)

Today, I woke up early enough in the morning to get a shower and start driving into town for the final meeting on my calendar project. I was in such a rush to get out of the door and on the road that I forgot my cell phone on the drafting table in my room. It had left it on the charger cord and only remembered that it was still at home as I was pulling on to campus.

I wasn't expecting any phone calls, nor did I have any calls of my own to make, so it really didn't matter if it was home. Still, the cell phone is such a presence in my pocket these days, it feels weird not to have it. It is also weird to think about how something that seems like a necessity today was something that I comfortably did without for several years before. I remember thinking to myself how odd people seemed talking on their cell phones out in public back when cell phones first started showing up in any kind of great numbers. If you passed by someone talking on the phone in the street, you might have needed a moment or two to note that they weren't addressing you or that they did not have a mental illness. One usually only saw mentally ill homeless people talking to themselves in public before the advent of the cell phone. Today, phones are evolving further, and it won't be long before we're holding them in front of our faces to talk each other instead of pressing them against our ears merely to listen.

Once on campus, I printed up my calendar project, had the meeting with the art gallery director to get her approval on it, and then worked on fitting it into the printer's online template. The fact that I am getting a heck of a deal on the printing costs almost makes the various idiosyncratic weirdness of their print process worthwhile. They don't use the industry standard software that the majority of their clients do, so their is ton of fussing with things on the computer to get things to print correctly. However, because all of this fussing occurs on the computer or over the phone, you really have to cross your fingers and hope the project comes back in the way you envisioned it. The last thing I would want to have happen is for the calendar to come back folded nine ways to Sunday, and have eight of those ways be wrong.

I expected the process to take an hour or so, but the adjustments and the uploading took three and half. Thankfully, we (me and the lab/print technician) finished it up before my 2:00 p.m. meeting.

The meeting at 2:00 p.m. was concerning some minor administrative issues regarding my finishing up incompletes that I regrettably received in Fall 2008. My plan thus far is to finish them up this term, but I've been in school long enough to know that even the most carefully laid plans can get irredeemably haywire if you don't shepherd them through the bureaucracy as you go along. Fortunately, it seems that things will work out.

I bought a sub sandwich when my school obligations were done, ate it in the computer lab, and talked with the art director and some of the other students for a bit before finally returning home. I spent much of the evening at home in front of the computer surfing through design and photography sites, watching television, and playing silly games. Later that night, since there was nothing on the television worth watching, I listened to some Grateful Dead on Itunes.

This is my second day on the new medicine, and I cannot tell if it is having an effect or not. My arm is a little sore where I put the patch, and I am more tired than usual, but I can't tell if any of this is related. At some point, I plan on getting a hair-cut, but I have to make an appointment, and I have to emotionally commit to spending about 20 bucks to do something I only half want to do. I also need to finally finish up that picture project I've been promising everyone that I am working on. Tomorrow might be the right day for that.

04 September 2009

The Rest of that Same Day 

After that morning meeting (see post below), I finally drove into the city and eventually made it to the community college campus. I needed to finish up the calendar project that I was working on for the art gallery.

Briefly stated, the art gallery calendar is an unfinished project from spring term that has been dogging me for weeks. The calendar is both a poster/flyer/mailer that the gallery director (also the head art instructor at the college) can send to interested people informing them of the various dates of the various shows. The calendar also features some works from the various artists that will be on display during the school year. I volunteered for the project because I had the most time availability and because I really needed to have something I made for my "studio practices" class go to print.

It turns out that getting artists to e-mail you print-ready samples of their work is like organizing an all cat marching band--maybe you could get the cats to line up neatly in rows, but the good Lord help you if you need them to march in unison or play instruments while they do it. That process combined with my own finding out of how to do things in InDesign, or trying to get the department chair's approval on my layout extended the project to the very end of the deadline.

I just found out today that the calendar must be sent to the printer on Thursday no matter what. After meeting with the gallery director for the fifth and final time, I made the necessary edits and sent a PDF off to the department chair for e-mail approval. I hope it passes her inspection. On the day after tomorrow, I have to return to campus in the morning and format the calendar to the printer's template. I will also cross my fingers and pray to all that is good and holy that it will return from the printer as perfect as can be.

While on campus today, before meeting with the art gallery director for the last time, I made an appointment to see the disability services coordinator. This next term will be more than unusual and I want to check in with the disability services offices to see if there is any support I can get should the unforeseen happen. Last Fall term, I had a problem finishing my classes, a problem related to the fact that I was switching counselors at the time. The best solution to making up those classes was to wait until next year and finish them up when they were next offered. I would not be enrolled officially in the classes as I had already paid for them and attended seven weeks of them before. Instead, I would sit in on this year's classes and pretend last year's didn't happen.

Speaking on a purely personal level, this is a not a problem for me. In fact, it's an ideal "do-over." However, administratively, this could present a problem or two since I am not in this term's system. My meeting with the disability service office should help me clarify what, if anything, I would need to do to protect my rights should I have problems.

After my afternoon meetings and appointment makings, I went home and watched television and surfed on the computer. I re-read my first year of blog postings and noted, with some mild regret, that my writing was much better when I was reading all of those complicated college articles and classic novels for my graduate courses. As my blogging frequency dropped, so did the clarity and creativity of my writing. Yes, there were more than a handful of awkward phrasings and absurd over-exertions in the creative vein, but it was definitely more interesting to read. I hope I can recapture some of that as I try to post much more often.

01 September 2009

Typical Relationship Movie 

Anyone who cares to read this should already know that I don't assiduously document the minutiae of my life in this blog. Even with the events that I do happen to document, there are details here and there that are inevitably left out, sometimes inadvertently, sometimes not. It's the nature of the beast. Aside from not wanting to upset anyone with what I may or may not say, my act of putting text on a given page requires an editorial discretion will alter and distort events no matter how accurate I try to be.

In college, I encountered novelist Tim O'brien's idea of "story truth" versus "happening truth," an idea that says that sometimes something can be more accurate and emotionally true in story even if it depicts things that did not actually happen. The obvious example in his case is the Vietnam War. You can come closer to the truth of that war by fictionally portraying how things felt rather than coldly documenting facts as they happened. There is something about how we as human beings need stories to tell ourselves about our lives and our experience of psychic trauma that makes this idea resonate for me.

Consequently, while I do try to accurately describe the events I portray in this blog as they happened, for me, the more important element to my postings is how they seemed or how they felt. It's an important caveat I felt I should note.


Today, I went to my morning meeting and, I believe, I inadvertently insulted a woman by telling her that I did not feel that "the relationship" entertainment genre of movies were any good. You've seen this movie before. When Harry Met Sally is the most famous and has the added benefit of being pretty good, but the majority of these movies are terrible and, to my view, wind up reinforcing horrible gender stereotypes and do actual harm in society as some people take them as illustrating a great truth about men and women and how they interact.

Love Story gave us, "love is never having to say you're sorry," which most people today would say is utter B.S. It's shocking to modern ears to hear how wrong that sounds, right? Yet, no one lives beyond their own time, so when the same type of B.S. ideas are presented in these modern movies, they sound normal and therefore unremarkable. Yet, as culture inevitably evolves, the distance of history might reveal some of those ideas for the trash they actually are. It might be hard to watch this type of movie in fifty years without laughing at the nonsense they seem to present as ultimate truth.

The women in these movies are typically attractive, smart, goofy, and earnestly seeking a "good man," a "good man" defined as someone who will be a modern prince charming that can provide to the woman's every emotional need without making any demand of his own. Midway through the film, the women express their frustrations at not finding mister right (or mister right not changing fast enough) and will try to change something about themselves only to realize the "good man" will love them for who they are not who they try to be. They revert back to wanting to be "rescued" by that prince charming. The men are attractive, slightly dumb, mostly neanderthals who really only want to have sex and will do or say anything to get it. Through their crazy adventures with these women, they wind up learning important lessons about themselves and somehow transform into the "good man" for the woman protagonist. They end up together and more emotionally connected as movie promised they would.

Real relationships, real gender roles, are far more messy and interesting than that. Of course, these relationship type of movies may put a spin on that basic formula by changing a detail here and there, but for the most part, that is all they are. I dislike horror movies for pretty much the same reason: simplicity of plot and character. Horror movies sometimes have the edge though in that they can be about the monster (like zombies) more than about gender, but not always.

Anyway, going back to the meeting this morning, I indicated some of my reservations about such movies to someone who recommended one to me. I could sense she didn't share my opinion and suggested, subtly, that since I had not actually seen the film in question, my opinion was uninformed. I don't have to see a horror picture either to know what I am likely going to see.

In any event, I regretted bad mouthing the movie for the effect it might have in future meetings. I still can't help feeling the same way about those terrible movies; I just have to resolve to be more careful with my phrasing in the future. I don't yet know much about this woman. I don't have a clear sense of her biases and opinions and she doesn't reveal much. We might be too different to reach an understanding on many issues. I am reserving judgment at the moment.