Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.


Today I am Forty-One

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Pig which is late at night or 11:45 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

God, I don’t feel that old.

Wow, this year has gone fast! It seems like just yesterday I was starting the 365 Days Project on Flickr and now here I’ve finished it. That was an interesting experience. Not quite what I thought it would be and I’m not entirely sure it accomplished everything I was hoping it would, but it did force me to grow in my photography and get more comfortable with myself and my camera.  I have to admit, I’m not quite sure what I’ll do with all the “extra” creative time that I won’t be spending obsessing over what to do for my next self-portrait.  Honestly, it feels a little weird, since for the past year, a significant focus of my creative energy has been spent on this project and I feel almost at a loss to know what creative direction to head next.  I know I want to take a break and sort of get my feet under me, but then, I know I’ll want to do more with my photography than I have so far and I intend it to take me much farther from my comfort zone than it already has.  But, I’m still not entirely sure what I’m willing to committ to next, so I’m trying to be open to whatever feels right.

Aside from that, it’s been an unexceptional year for me in most ways.
Many things have not changed at all and I’m certainly not where I thought or even hoped I’d be in many aspects of my life.  For instance, I still work at the same company, doing the same things.  I still have fairly massive debt, especially medical debt.  I’m still quite very single.  I still dabble in art and what I do still lacks a certain amount of passion.  Well, perhaps it’s more accurate to say that my creative work suffers from an abundance of restraint, repression and control.
I have started to lose weight and get into better shape, which I definitely feel is a prerequisite for dating, for me.  I’m down about thirty pounds since last year, which means I’m just under two-hundred.  Far more importantly, I’m in better shape now than I have been in close to eleven years.  I’m leaner, stronger and if not more resilient, at least not significantly less.  I still need more work, but I’m finally getting to a point that I’m comfortable with my physical self.  I may never be truly satisfied, but, I am at least headed in a much more healthy and satisfying direction.

I’m still not sure about relationships and dating and all that chaos right now.  I keep telling myself that I’ll do that soon, but, honestly, I’m not sure  how soon that will be.  I know I don’t want to be alone forever, but, right now, doing the things that I need to do to change that seem life more work than it’s worth.  Obviously, at some point, I’ll take those emotional risks and make myself vulnerable in that way to someone, but, well, not during the holidays.
I’m sure there are many who would find it somewhat amusing to think of me this way, but I am very delicate in some ways.  I have scars on my heart and memory from the ways the phrase “I love you” has been used as a tool against me.  And, from the results of my saying those words without fully meaning them.  Rising above some of the wreckage of my past seems too difficult a task some days, though I know that there are many who have far greater obstacles to their happiness and their futures.

So, I try to take it all one day at a time.
I try not to worry too much about what will come and just live in the now.  I suspect that a lot of cancer survivors do the same.

And, of course, my birthday wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention all the other famous people who had the good luck to be born on this particular day. Famous people like Frank “Chairman of the Board” Sinatra, Jennifer Connelly, Bob Barker, Gustave Flaubert, author of Madame Bovary, Edvard Munch, and Wells Fargo founder, Henry Wells. Not to mention, Mike Pinder of the Moody Blues, Tim Hauser of Manhattan Transfer, Dickey Betts of the Allman Bros, jazz musician Grover Washington Jr, and former mayor of New York City, Ed Koch.
All heady company to be sure, but for whatever reason, it tickles me the most that I share a birthday with Frank Sinatra. I guess it’s because he was such a unique and original character who really fought against and beat some long odds to become an amazingly famous, generally well thought of character. I can only hope to do the same, one day.

So, I don’t know what the coming year will bring, but I know I’ll be in a different place than I am today.  My dream is that in the next year I’ll have gotten paid for some piece of photographic work, that I’ll have written more in general and more fiction, that I’ll have taken more emotional and spiritual risks by opening myself to others.  My hope is that the attempt to do these things will be driven not from a sense of fear of what will happen to me if I don’t chase those dreams, but, rather, a sense of hope and courage and adventure and the possiblity of growth and positive, directed change.
There are no guarantees, of course, but those hopes and dreams provide me a road map for where to head next and a guide to my choices for the next year.
I hope you’ll all be here with me, to see just where I end up and how I get there.

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared."


Creative Focus

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Life, the Universe, and Everything,NaNoWriMo,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 9:39 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Full Moon

I have some focus problems.

Forgive me, dear readers, I know it’s been weeks since I’ve had a decent week of real news, commentary or updates.  It’s the season.  Fall always slows me down and throws me off balance.  October and November are always crazy, hectic, chaotic months for me.  Set aside the fact that everything seems to be family oriented, which serves as a reminder that it was August of 2005 when my divorce was final, and the Sunday before Thanksgiving in 2004 when The Queen of the Damned hopped on her broomstick and flew off cackling, leaving me quite effectively without family right before the holidays.

No, set that aside, because, clearly, it doesn’t effect me at all.
Forget, too, that it was the Fall of 2006 when I started coming down with pneumonia that turned into a football sized tumor.  Or that it was August of 2007 when I finished chemotherapy and looked, for all intents and purposes, like a walking corpse, a living ghost.
Because, as much as I’d like to blame the slump on all that, it really has little to do with it.  What’s more true is that I get endlessly, uselessly busy in October, getting ready for the social obligations of November.  Oddly, December has far fewer social obligations than November and I look forward to the relative peace of December, even without snow, and the joy of Christmas, the rebirth of light into the world.

Sadly, I’ve done far too little so far to prepare for November’s fun and games, and I’ve been a little paralyzed with the Herculean task of clearing the clutter in my house.  That, along with an impending visit from my parents, and my usual Thanksgiving party, which is being a little displaced this year, is why I’m not even going to pretend to try my hand at NaNoWriMo this year.  It’s also partly why I’ve been so long between any real updates.
I have been working quite a bit the last two weeks, often working late, sometimes far too late, to try and get things accomplished at work.  Also, I’ve been working out.  Yes, I know, I was doing that before, some, but now I’m doing it more.  Not only in the morning, but, when I can manage it, a second, lighter, workout in the evening.  I’ve been using those iPhone apps I reviewed not too long ago, FoodScan and DailyBurn, to track my inputs and outputs and discovered that I hadn’t been working enough to burn off breakfast!  So, I stepped it up a bit.  I think the results are showing, too.  I’ve dropped a little over 10 pounds in two months, which seems pretty sustainable to me.  More importantly, I feel better physically and, I think, look better, too.
But, that takes time, dear readers, and, while the extra exercise has been helping me sleep, it’s also been putting me out earlier, which means less writing time!

But, it’s not all grim!
I’ve also been busy because I’ve been reading more.  Some fiction, but a little bit more non-fiction, like The Dip and Think And Grow Rich.  I’ve also started to work my way through the backlog of photography books I’ve been accumulating.  Most recently, I’ve been reading The Moment It Clicks by Joe McNally, and I’ll read his other book on photography, The Hot Shoe Diaries, next in my non-fiction queue.  (Who knew that the advice of not bothering to light your subject’s feet would produce a visibly better photo for me?)  Also, I got these two books because this coming weekend, November 7th and 8th, I have signed up for a two-day lighting and portraiture seminar taught by Mr. McNally.  And, to say that I am looking forward to it is beyond understatement.  I recognize that the only way to improve my photography is to take some kind of instruction, and, of course, get out shooting more, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to work on those meager skills.  The class shouldn’t be more than 200 people, so I’m not sure how “hands on” this will be, but, from everything I’ve heard, McNally is a fantastic teacher, so I’m sure I’ll learn something that makes the more than reasonable $150 fee money well spent.  After all, just reading a few pages of The Moment It Clicks has visibly improved my self-portraits, I think.

It may be that I’ve been pouring all my creative energy out either via photography or solving problems at work, but I sure don’t feel like I’ve had anything left to write at all, much less well.  Or, it may be that I’ve just gotten out of the habit of writing every chance I get and not worrying about the quality of the work.
In any case, you’ve just gotten a bit of an update on what I’ve been up to lately, so, I guess, that’s good enough.
For now.

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