And for once I was SuperMom

Monday, June 30, 2014

I Love Technology

I finally did it, I finally got an iPhone.
'Yes, Lara,' say all my friends on Facebook, 'we've noticed.'
I've never been one for technology.  all seems so ephemeral.  One day this the hot new thing that can do this cool thing, you buy it for top dollar, and then soon there's something new and better that made the other thing obsolete.  The cycle gets played out again, and it has made me cynical.
Actually I think I was already cynical about it in middle school.
And I've only gotten worse.
Every time I got a new phone I would excited.  I would play with it eagerly for a few days and then realize that all it did was receive phone calls and take mediocre pictures.  I would give up and it would live in the bottom of my purse until I remembered to look and see if anyone had felt the need to contact me.
The whole iPhone kept building and building.  Then I was getting texts I couldn't read.  Or texts that got split up into six texts, that got sent to me out of order.
This whole blogging, internet marketing thing, seems fueled by the use of iPhones.
And people were always just staring at them all the time.  I mean what is the fuss?
So after a few discussions with my husband, where he told me I didn't need one (I mean no one really needs one).  I pointed out that he had one.  He says he needs it for work and work is paying for it.  Then I would huff around because I am not important enough to need one.  He would counter with the fact that I am important...
More huffing.
Eventually we decided to get me an iPhone.
(Sometimes I really hate being a stay at home mom, I feel like a vocational bottom feeder.)

Then I got one.
Sometimes I just pick it up and stare at it and think,
'Do something cool.'
Then it does something cool.
Or, I tap on things until it does do something cool.
And I've realized what everyone is always staring at.

I've caught myself ignoring people so that I could finish up one last round of Candy Crush Saga.  Then thinking,
'Is crushing little animated candies really more interesting than another human being?'
Probably not.
I think I have to take technology with a grain of salt.  Any time it helps me with connect with people on a deeper level or make my social connections stronger I should use it.  Anytime I find myself ignoring someone so I can play a game? ( I am currently stuck on level 29 and it is maddening. I like to think that Candy Crush helps keep my mind sharp, you know, using new thought pathways for strategies.  Keeps me from developing Alzheimers, or, you know, just in case I ever need to thwart a land war in Asia.)
I should probably lose it.
I already deleted it off my phone.
Then I downloaded it again.
That is really embarrassing.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Pink Magnolia

Pink Magnolia
This is only the third painting that I have completed since landing here in Massachusetts.  That is three paintings in three years.
A depressing fact.
I cringe every time that someone asks me if I am painting still.  I know that they are asking me out of a desire to check in with me as a whole person, or as encouragement.  Some days it feels like nagging.  I highly doubt that it is.  Finding the space in my life to paint has become increasingly harder. 
Not only that I find that I am low on inspiration.  Coming from Colorado I was driven to paint all the landscapes that I was looking at every day.  Mountain peaks that beckoned not only to he climbed but also to be painted.  Aspen groves that whistled softly and gave me painting after painting.  The deepest blue skies that were so easily wrought.

I eagerly moved to the East Coast because my husband found a job in his field (after a year of less than ideal employment) and we were living in a rural town.  I just really can't hack country living.  I know, it's beautiful, see all the inspiration above.  I just didn't grow up with it.  I didn't like having to drive 2 hours for a Target.  Or a movie theatre (not that we ever go to the movies anyway), or a Panera.  (I really, really like Panera.)

I also knew that our time in rural Colorado was a furlough, we just couldn't seem to find jobs that fit us and we were living with Scott's parents.  Whom I love dearly, but they know that at some point we needed our own space.

So we got here, and I looked around.  I liked it.  I saw all the lovely trees.  But then not much happened in my little inspirational pathways.  Maybe because everytime we went somewhere pretty I was chasing children.  Or maybe because I was still adjusting from the mountain vistas I was used to.  I began to wonder if I was all dried up.  If there was no more inspiration left for me.

One thing that Massachusetts does have is four seasons.  Four exact, lined up with the calendar, seasons.

We spun through our first summer, working, adjusting to a new job, finding an apartment.  I was so excited to experience my first New England fall, I hear it's kind of a big deal.  Then I got pregnant and for some reason all the fall flavors made my stomach churn.  Anything pumpkin pie spice, or butternut squash sent me reeling.  Really that whole season I was reeling.  I didn't get much painting done.  Mostly because I was lying down.
I hate winter.  I don't want to talk about it.
Then spring comes.  Spring is cruel.  Spring is amazing.
Cruel because you so desperately want it to be warm, and one day it is.  Then the next it is decidedly not.  You get to shuck your winter coat.  But you still have to wear some kind of outerwear.
Amazing because while you are still freezing all these little plants start popping up from the ground.
I remember standing in my gym staring out the window, sometime in April, the tree outside had developed that nubbly appearance on its limbs.  I stood staring between my sets, eyeballing the tree, because I was pretty sure that I saw a bud appearing at the vertex of one of those nubs.
And flowering trees.  I love flowering trees.  I am almost (but not quite) sad when it turns to summer and those go away.  For those few weeks of color dotted trees I am enamored.

This third painting was of course inspired by those trees.  Last year I took pictures of pink magnolias as I walked by them, stopping on sidewalks in front of houses, hoping owners would not mind the lady with the stroller and the camera phone snapping pictures of their magnolia tree. Of course I didn't use any of those pictures.  This year my neighbor across the street provided a tree that produced plentifully.  I had an excuse too, if presented with an angry owner I could introduce myself say I lived at '34' and hoped they didn't mind.

So, a year in the making, we have a painting.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Over Market

"I'm trying not to buy stuff we don't need," I heard a wife hiss to her husband, as I wheeled my cart through Target.  I giggled, don't we all think that in Target?  Don't I think that every time I go into a store?  A purchase of a few dollars isn't something I need to fret about.  So that hummus looks good, and so does that extra pack of tortillas, ohhh, they're on sale, I should buy those shoes now.
And with everything looking so tastey or so necessary it's really hard not to buy a bunch of stuff that you don't need.

I spent the afternoon shopping by myself a week or so ago.  Usually when I come home I report my findings.  I had ended up spending way more than I expected at Panera for lunch for myself.  I chose to get one of their 'You Pick Two,' meals.  A prominently displayed option where you choose two of either half a salad, half a sandwich, or a cup of soup.  By the time I actually did the math I realized that I was paying twelve dollar for a half sandwich, and half salad.  That seems like a lot of money for a small meal, doesn't it?
The way that Panera displays this meal option you automatically go to it, and want it, without realizing the cost of the choice.  I also noticed on that same shopping trip that Trader Joe's had their chocolate displayed in a peculiar way.  The more inexpensive choice is lying down on the top of the shelf and the more expensive choices are propped up and easily accessible.
I told all of my 'finding's to Scott when I got home.  I felt like I had been manipulated the whole time I was shopping.
I know that there is a whole science to marketing, but it just makes me mad when I figure it out.

"Well, she's tall and skinny and often that is what makes a model," I said, we had just figured out that one of our friends has a modeling contract.
"Why? Why is that considered beautiful," my husband asked.
"Well, because tall skinny people look good in clothes," I respond.
"That's stupid," he said definitively.
He's right.  That is stupid.  I think as he has lived with me and has seen how much this standard of beauty has kept me from enjoying my short muscular body he has grown to hate this paradigm more. Even our standard of beauty is centered on marketing.  A tall thin body type has become our standard of beauty because designers use women shaped like that to show off their clothes, and they are photographed and we think we have to look like that to look good.
Or to be pretty in general.
We are so driven (or being driven) by marketing, by what is in our wallet that we have let our very images of ourselves get caught up in it.
Doesn't that make you mad?

Friday, June 13, 2014

Make Like a Tree and Leaf

"Mommy, I want to stay in Mr. Nate's cabin," Emma asks, a request that has no chance of being accepted.  It was just the other day I walked away from her and said,
"I wish you'd stop asking me things that I have to say 'no' to all the time," I feel like the biggest wet blanket until I realized that most of the time she is asking things of me that have no chance of getting granted.  No chance, like, ever.
This time she was asking to stay in the cabin of 34 year old single man who runs the Adirondack backpacking program of Gordon College.  While Nate is a perfectly non-creepy individual, having my four year old daughter stay in his cabin with him is completely inappropriate. We spent the week up in the Adirondacks at the Base Camp for this program so Scott and I could take a Wilderness First Aid course.
A four day course detailing things like Traumatic Brain Injury, bandaging wounds with bone sticking out of them, and High Altitude Cerebral Edema.
We got a babysitter.
It was heaven.
About two days into the course I was chatting with our babysitter at lunch,
'Carys won't let me put her down,' she says to me, 'just last night my back started to kill me,' she tells me, 'I don't know how you do it,' she finishes up.
Two sticks slowly rubbed together over my head, a slight spark just started.  My back, which usually hurts by the end of the day, didn't anymore.  I expected my back would because I was sitting on a hard bench all day taking part in lectures about splinting sticks in eyes, but it didn't.  I thought about all those days were I couldn't wait to lie prone in bed just because it meant that I was off of my spine.  I suspected it was because parenting a two year old is physically hard work, but here it was, proof.
I've always liked retreating to camps and woodland environments.  The chance to take a break about caring for my appearance.  The chance to dress like a dirty wilderness guide.  The chance to have an excuse not to look at the computer.  The chance to not hear music, cars, and television.  I always feel like it is cleansing.  I noticed that at the end of each day I still wanted to retreat to my cabin and sit in quiet.  A facet of life here that is the same, at the end of each day I just want to sit in quiet.
I just read an article online that says I might be an introvert.  I think I might.
I just want to sit in quiet.
Even without caring for children all day long.
I just want to sit in quiet.
Even without the noise of an urban environment.
I just want to sit in quiet.
We drove home today, by about Amsterdam, New York my face had started to hurt.  I told Scott that, that I could feel the stress returning to its strongholds in my body.
Even though when I walked into our house I could feel signs of my body relaxing into home.
Funny how it takes time away to shed so much light on something.