Oh Friday, thank you for saving me

Do you ever have those weeks when, having reached the end, you look back and realize you are lucky you survived the week with your friends and employment still intact?

Yeah, this week was a doozy for me. I’m not sure why. The work wasn’t harder than usual. The weather broke and we can almost taste fall on our tongues in the mornings. (PS: I’m not ready for fall. The memory of 6 feet of snow is still a little to fresh. But fall in New England, y’all…there’s nothing better. I will be ready soon.) I have kept up my morning walks (though I’ve been slacking on the picking up of the house). I have refrained from launching into a righteous, idealism-fueled rant against guns, Donald Trump, and whatever jerk invented the “comment” feature for online media. I booked flights to Iceland and Berlin, for heaven’s sake, and I’m going to visit the Grand frickin’ CANYON in a few weeks. My family is gonna have a party by the beach in October. By all accounts, it was a good week.

Except for that whole stock market flippin’ out thing, people getting shot on live TV, Katrina remembrances revealing how much farther we have to go, and National Dog Day outshining the anniversary of women receiving the right to vote. Plus me and my ever present inner monologue about all the things that I need to do better (like eat more vegetables, dress more fashionably, go on more/any dates, etc). Yeah, except those things.

So I guess it’s not a surprise that my sarcasm filter slipped a little. I can only take so much. But I really hate it when that happens.

See, it’s a fine line I walk. I went liberal arts school in the northeast, people, and if it’s one thing they teach you there, especially when you hang out with actors and improv-ers, it’s the snappy comeback. Until I went to college, I never knew I had it in me, and mine are often more snarky than funny, but if I’m not careful, I can be a real…well…let’s just say my Arkansas friends sometimes had to remind me to “be nice, Jodi!”.

Anyway, I work next to a co-worker with whom I can snark back and forth all day without worrying about offending; that is truly a blessing. But there is a line. It’s hard to know where it is sometimes, but I’m always trying to keep an eye one it. And at least twice this week, I think I crossed it. I’m not saying the sarcasm wasn’t merited (it was) but like most things that bubble up to the tip of your tongue, it would have been better thought, not said. It felt marvelous for about 2 seconds, and then I felt bad. Really bad. The kind of worry that I remember from junior high, when my fretting about not saying something cool ruined my sleep and made my chest heavy.

I also had a tough time with the #niftyfiftyfriday challenge that I and two of my friends do each week – we have to post a photo shot with our 50mm lens on facebook each Friday, so we can critique and evaluate and learn. I LOVE THIS part of my week, but I couldn’t capture anything on the camera this week. I usually have no trouble finding a subject to shoot, or beauty in tiny things, but not this week. It was annoying.

For the record, I realize that, in the grand scheme of things, these are all #firstworldproblems. But lets leave the judging for another day, shall we?

Anyway, today, I knew a group of us from work were planning to head down to the Greenway (the urban park that was the result of the Big Dig, where they basically buried a highway to build trees and stuff – a winning idea that I’m pretty sure I’m still paying for in my taxes) to check out some public art. I was very excited for this. Just the therapy I needed! I put my camera in my bag first thing in the morning, and did my best to get through the day, with marginal success.

We got down to the park, and it was clear, beautiful Boston night, the kind that goes a long way to toward making us forget that winter is long and cold up here. We strolled and exclaimed over the sculptures, and I snapped happily away. We stopped to sit on the grass, and I accidentally captured the most gorgeous photo of one of my coworkers. I lay on my back and looked up at a huge woven sculpture hanging between skyscrapers, clicking madly, feeling the fist around my chest loosen bit by bit.

Then, I looked down at my camera and realized – no photo card. Which equals no photos. ***sad trombone***

Now, after the aforementioned angst of the week, you’d think I’d have lost my cool, right? I think it’s a mark of supreme maturity that all I could do was laugh, put away my real camera, and get out my smart phone, which, to be honest, probably did just as well at capturing the awesome as my Canon would have (this because I am still very much a “real” digital camera novice).

So, here are a few of my I-Phone photos of my beautiful city. I share them with you from the safe and quiet of my apartment, with my dog, who has no problem tolerating my sarcasm, at my side.

Happy Friday. Enjoy!

Ok, I cheated. I took this one two nights ago at my pond. But it’s so pretty. It was an alternate #niftyfiftyfriday candidate. IMG_1091

This sculpture is called “As If It Were Already Here” and it hangs between 3 skyscrapers. How cool is that?As If It Were Already Here

I feel like this is made for a movie villain to get caught in.Nets in the sky

Who knew grass came in polka dot?Polka dot grass

I have never seen this view of my city before. I felt like I should listen to the light and just look for a moment. I only irritated a few tourists by stopping in my tracks. Stop and look

Summer. How can you not fill up your good mood tank when you see this? Kids in Fountain

Three things that won’t magically transform your life

I hate our current obsession with lists.

Well, maybe that’s too strong. Maybe some of you read “89 things to make your sex life better” or “57 tips to instantly become the most popular person ever” as inspirational. Maybe you think “Hey, if I pick one or two of these, I’ll do better” rather than “Oh, great, 89 more ways I’m a loser”, like I do.

But, in recent days, I have, without really trying, adopted a few simple habits that have made my life better. They haven’t revolutionized it, and they haven’t been able to chase away my minor case of the blues – caused by missing faraway friends/family and pretty much EVERYONE I know getting married, having kids, or taking glorious vacations with their incredible friends/family (and PS, I KNOW I shouldn’t compare myself to everyone else, and I usually do well, I really do, but sometimes…ugh.) Ahem. Anyway. – but they have made life just a little more enjoyable and sane.

So I share them with you, not because I want you to think I’m clever or witty with my 27 point list, but in the genuine hope that they might help you,

  1. I have started taking a walk in the morning. I’m not sure why this started, but for the last two weeks or so, I have managed to rouse myself out of bed and take the dog for a walk before work. I think this one sprang from guilt; I just feel bad for my dog who has to stay cooped up all day with only a visit from the dog walker to keep her from dying of boredom in our little apartment. And she loves walks so much! This one also requires that I try to go to bed a little earlier so I can still get my 7 to 8 hours. And bonus! It lessens my personal guilt if I don’t get out for a walk/run/swim at night, because at least I did SOMETHING other than sit on my butt all day. So, thumbs up for the morning walk. I realize this is not a big deal for most of you, but for those who know how much I love mornings, you get the monumentalness of this step.
  2. I try to pick up all my stuff before I go to bed. This one doesn’t always work. See, I think my default is to be a slob. A college roommate of mine once wrote an essay about how my slob tendencies made her crazy. However, I really do love my apartment when it’s picked up; it has great feng shui and is basically my haven, my bachelorette pad where I have no need for anything or anyone else. I am content in my woman-cave…when it’s clean. So, the picking up of things is kind of a satisfying way to get closer to clean. Even if it’s just putting the dog toys back in the bin, putting the couch cushions back, and moving all dishes to the sink to be washed at a later date (hey, don’t judge, I’m taking small steps here), it helps. It means fewer binge cleaning sessions on Sunday nights. And sometimes, I even make my bed in the morning. Someone get my mom some smelling salts, she just passed out after reading this.
  3. I turned off the little red email icon on my phone. Now this one may be revolutionary. For all you email addicts, don’t fret. You can still check your email on your phone, as I still do. But you don’t have to see the little red icon. You don’t have to get a buzz or a ding every time you get a new email. I am telling you, you do not need this distraction. Unless you are a NASA engineer or the President, or maybe a doctor, you don’t need to be distracted every time someone replies to an email about cake at the next birthday party. It takes a few steps on your phone to achieve this, and I’m happy to share them if anyone wants to know how, but seriously, y’all. DO THIS ONE. It makes a difference. It’s one less thing to look at when you pull out your phone. You have to CHOOSE to check email rather just do it by default. You can do it. I know you can. You will not be less important or valuable if you do this. I promise.

So, there you are. Let me know if you’ve tried any of these and how they work for you!

The fallacy of relative privation

Many years ago, in undergrad, I took a course called “Logic.” It was, embarrassingly enough, my math credit, which tells you why I did so badly in my advanced econ class four years later. I remember the Professor, Dan Cohen, and I remember liking the structure of logic – formulas that dissected arguments and made it easier to sort fact from fiction, or a really good argument from truth.

These last two things are something I think we could use a little more of in our world. So today, I retreat to logic to address something that’s bothering me.

TWICE today, in my social media feeds, I came across a situation of someone expressing their dismay or opinion about something, only to be told that there are worse things happening out there in the world, so therefore he/she shouldn’t be expressing their opinion, or should feel bad about doing so, or should somehow qualify their opinion with all of the worse things that they could be talking about.

For example, people who are upset about a lion being killed are wrong to a) have that emotion, or b) say so because people are also being killed. Or someone complains about needing a dental procedure is told “you’re lucky you have dental insurance. So many people don’t.”

I might offend with this statement, but I think this kind of shaming sucks. It has reached the point where sometimes I’m afraid to even have an opinion because I’m pretty sure someone’s going to write a tweet or blog post that’s going to make me feel bad for having it.

Explain to me why I can’t be horrified both at a lion being killed and people being shot in their cars. Explain to me why it’s ok to make someone feel guilty for being lucky enough to have dental insurance.

Explain to me why we must always be working to invalidate other worldviews in order to validate ours. (This, in my humble opinion, is one of the biggest problems facing writers/bloggers today)

Here’s the answer – we don’t have to. There is a term for this kind of shaming/argument: The fallacy of relative privation. In logic terms, it’s an informal fallacy, which means there are misleading errors in reasoning that seem to support the conclusion, but actually are irrelevant or false.

Here’s the Wikipedia definition:

The fallacy of relative privation, or appeal to bigger problems, is an informal fallacy in which it is stated an opponent’s arguments should be dismissed or ignored, on the grounds that more important problems exist, regardless of whether these problems are relevant to the question at hand or not.

A well-known example of this fallacy is the response “but there are children starving in Africa,” with the implication that any issue less serious is not worthy of discussion.

Take this fallacy to its extreme, and you could say that someone who just lost a loved one to a horrible car crash shouldn’t be sad because thousands of people died of Ebola this year. You wouldn’t say that, would you? (I sure hope I didn’t break some other logic rule with that extrapolation)

Anyway, it was nice to find a definition for this particular tactic, and to know that the undefined unease I always feel at such arguments is at least grounded in logic.

But then again, there are all kinds of people out there with no internet and no means to while away an evening blogging, so I should probably feel bad for writing this post.


Exploring my new camera: Provincetown

A few months back, I decided it was FINALLY time to invest in a real, actual camera. You know, the kind with lenses and a viewfinder that you actually look through and a button you press to take a picture.

Why, you ask? Well, it’s mostly because, and this is really kind of dumb, I like the tactile feel of a camera. I feel cool when I cradle it in my hand and bring it to my face. And because I need a project. I am surrounded by creative people all day and I’m a little jealous of their “artist” label. Because try as I might, I can’t make “arts marketer” into a legit artist label.

Back in my high school years, I learned photography with actual film. Mr. Swedberg, my teacher, taught me, and I loved the darkroom most of all: the chemicals and the magic of burning and dodging. Today we don’t have film and our darkrooms are our laptops. And too many people tell me I’m a “good photographer” for me to really be ok with it, considering that every picture I have taken in the last 8 years has likely been on an IPhone. That feels like cheating.

So, I saved up and decided to go for it.

I scoured blogs and asked advice from my social interwebbers, and eventually landed on my Canon Rebel EOS T5. And then, I took it out and shot some stuff, and it was fun and pretty and I was pleased with myself for photos like this:

Pink flower

Then, my former college roommate started sending me blog posts and challenging me to contests like #niftyfiftyfriday, and I realized how little I actually know about taking photographs from anything other than a “point the camera at something I like” standpoint. See, there’s MATH involved. Ugh. And on these newfangled cameras, more settings and buttons than you’d think you need to take a pretty picture. So I bought a prime lens, and set out to figure this stuff out.

Anyway, this has been a good exercise for me, to really dig into something I know nothing about, and to find that it’s really damn hard. I still don’t get a lot of it. The math seems unreasonably unintuitive. I still do a lot by instinct and gut. But I have noticed that, since I started thinking this way, I take fewer photos. I know that doesn’t make sense. But I’m spending less time clicking away on my IPhone and more time thinking what I’d need to do to capture a scene with my Canon. I find this intriguing, without really being able to ascribe meaning to it.

It’s also worth noting that most of the photos are lousy. This is also intriguing, part of that whole “you’ve gotta break stuff down before you can build it back up” cliche.

So, anyway, I thought it might be fun to share some of the not-as-lousy-as-others recent photos with you. I’m currently vacationing on Cape Cod (yeah, I know, doesn’t that sound so, well, New-Englandish?) and plan to spend hours photo-ing beaches and dunes tomorrow, so I thought I’d share a few less epic subjects here.

You will quickly discover that I love boats. You’ve been warned.

Photo of boat named Hindu

Sailing ship mast

What I wanted with this photo was the red boat in focus and everything else blurry. But I was using my 50mm lens and had no zoom and so I couldn’t figure it out. But I liked the reflection on the white boat on the left.

Red Boat

I should mention that all of these photos were taken in Provincetown, on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. The whole harbor is such a mess of boats. I loved it. Lots of Boats

Keens seem to have a special place in my summer adventures. This one is for Jennifer and Lisa.

A row of colorful Keen sandals

While my travel buddy was chatting with a client, I went on a little binge and found some neat things to try to capture.

Part of a rusty ship's wheel


Flowers in pots on stairs

And it was on the last one that I had some magic happen – a tiny bird hopped onto the railing above the flowers I was shooting. I clicked as fast as I could without time to change the settings, and managed to get this little gem.

Bird perched on a railing near potted flowers

As the day came to an end, we wound up at a little bar overlooking the water, and I snapped some more boats. I think it’s fascinating that turning basically the same scene (just a few degrees counterclockwise from my perch) into black and white makes it look so much more ominous.

boats on the ocean with pretty sky

Photo of boat

So, as you can tell, I have a long way to go to learn to use this new tool, but I’m finding that I am more excited about the stories behind how I got the photos than I am by the technical details. That seems to jive with my life in general. :) Thanks for coming along with me on this little journey through P-town.

Where I was when same-sex marriage became 100% legal

About 5 years ago, I wrote this little post so I’d remember where I was when the Affordable Care Act passed.

It’s time to do it again.

Today is June 26, 2015. Today, the Supreme Court determined that marriage is a right that should be extended to same-sex couples.

On the bus in to work, I was checking twitter and learning about a host of terror attacks taking place across the world. I felt, and still do feel, such cognitive dissonance…how are our brains supposed to process good news next to such horror?

Anyway, I was in my office as the decision was being run to the press by the interns of the court. I was quickly reading up to make sure I knew the various decisions that could be taken, and then suddenly, my facebook feed exploded in an orgy of rainbows. SCOTUS had voted for the big kahuna. They went all the way. They said same-sex marriage was legal in every state in the union.

I blinked, swore quietly, and then this thought passed through my head: “Oh my god. Same-sex couples can get married…in Arkansas. Today.” And tears literally filled my eyes.

I wasn’t expecting that. I wasn’t expecting such a rush of emotion. Especially because as a single heterosexual female, the decision has nothing directly to do with me.

Slowly, my staff and I rolled our chairs to the middle of our cubicle farm and tried to figure out the right way to respond. We were grinning, but we’re also a pretty pragmatic bunch, and we had to work pretty hard to keep ourselves from saying what we were all thinking: “How is the other side going to react? Will we have violence? Is this really as historic as it feels or are we just being dramatic?” I couldn’t help but feel sad that I probably won’t talk about this with my parents; to be honest, I don’t really know how they feel about same-sex marriage, because, well that’s POLITICS, and we don’t talk about that stuff. That sucks a bit, I think.

But we eventually convinced ourselves to enjoy the moment, and dove in to the sea of love, joy, and memes flooding the socials. I saw a tweet that said “scuse me, I have to go favorite everything in my feed”, and that really what it was like. So much love. So much stunned laughter. So much hope that we might have taken a real, honest-to-goodness step forward.

To be honest, I didn’t get much done during the day. I kept wanting to come back to that space, to be surround by all that joy. My jobs have never really allowed me to be as vocal about issues as I want to be, and having a family, whom I love very much, but who don’t often share my point of view on this stuff, has kept me pretty quiet, except among those who I absolutely know and trust. And I don’t trust the bandwagon; I know things are always more complicated than they seem.

But today I decided I don’t care if I offend someone with my belief that anyone should be able to marry their love, that same-sex couples can and do make amazing parents, and that under no circumstances do I believe that this decision marks the death of Christianity or family values. I know many smart people feel differently. But I’m a smart person, too, and my friends are smart people, and we are not now and have never been determined to destroy America, as some of our current presidential candidates would have you believe.

Love won today. I hope it wins tomorrow. And I hope peace comes to those who are mourning and suffering even as we rejoice.

I had a photo in mind when I went out on a walk with Sadie tonight – something with a rainbow flag. I couldn’t find it, though, so instead I went to Jamaica Pond and took pictures of the sunset. While there, I met a young couple, Matt and Anna, who sat in the gazebo with Sadie and I and chatted. They were so nice; it was one of the most pleasant evenings I can remember, and chatting with total strangers doesn’t come easy to me. It sounds silly and sentimental, but I think all the love was spilling over into real life today in MA, the first state in the union to legalize same-sex marriage. Our problems will all be there tomorrow, but tonight…love wins.

Good night, sweet friends.

Photo of Jodi with rainbow filter

PS: This is pretty funny.