Grounds for thought

It was a lovely day that day that we three went off to see the big-skirted Marilyn Monroe effigy in the westerly part of our county in New Jersey. The thing was it was always a different place even though it was the same place, and the bigger thing, even bigger than our Marilyn statue, was that the lotus was in bloom.trip to grounds for sculputre with Haya & Pat & Darrell 7-14 (569 of 632)trip to grounds for sculputre with Haya & Pat & Darrell 7-14 (610 of 632)
It was a good thing, fortunate really, that my two friends knew the place. I mean, they knew where the main building was, and how to hop on a handy tram when the opportunity arose. There was no judgment here. Lazy is as lazy does. I may not be good at hopping, but i am pretty good at being lazy.

A walk through the main building simply whetted our appetite for art. We were sure that our cameras were on securely. We had our lenses, lens caps, zooms and cleaning cloths safely tucked away in various pockets. What we didn’t have was the direction in which to start. Start! There is no such thing at GFS. All roads lead to even more roads.

trip to grounds for sculputre with Haya & Pat & Darrell 7-14 (603 of 632)At grounds for sculpture, there are indeed many roads. There are a myriad of ways to become lost, immersed in the feeling, the aura of what an artist may have envisioned, and by photographing that vision, you can make it your own. At least that is my theory. In this way, i overcome the personal prohibition of stealing, or borrowing, someone else’s work. At least i can try.

Guilty or not, we strode on, past screaming peacocks (and peahens), past annoying little kids wondering when they would get their promised lunch, past slower or older or just more observant folks out for a stroll.

lotus edited with black border

Some hours later, we found ourselves at the lotus pond. Not surprisingly, par for the course of our little threesome’s recent adventures, there were very few of the flowers open. But the ones who were, they were the focus of our focus for it seemed another hour. The random dragonflies, and butterflies, the lovely colors and shapes of the unusual flowers, gave us endless chances to practice our craft. Not on the man-made, but on the god-given beauty that was concentrated in this great sight. We were so engrossed in the taking and then in the discussion that followed, boring tothose non-photographers who may read this, we forgot the time.
It was a lovely day. The way in, the way out, was itself a study in self-knowledge and discipline. Or a wanton lack of awareness of teh outside world while visiting the world of waterlilies and dragonflies. A light was lit, and the experience will be remembered as well as relived, as soon as we can pack up our gear and make our way back.

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The Case for Boundaries Lost

pix_joannegrazide-gateHere’s the thing. I’m at a rather pleasant gathering of like-minded people, people who have come together for a purpose. To talk, share, elucidate and for me, to just show off. Not really. I just feel like sometimes I need to speak up, blow my own horn as it were, and keep up with the cool kids. Now this crowd is one of a few, hand-picked, carefully tended groups which I frequent – or not, depending on what kind of activity we are into.

For instance, computer club www.bcug.com has a mixed group of people who only have one thing in common at this point. An ongoing interest in technology. Although there are a choice few who seem to be battling with older technology and unable to comprehend that as of this hour, technology is available to all. Which brings me to the next point. Despite resistance on the part of our “elders,” there is a growing need to migrate to some sort of online presence, and at this point, it would be a shame to give up our FaceBook page or MeetUp, but that may happen at some point because heck, only three people use MeetUp to advertise their activities. This only results in stagnation, and I’m in the middle of it, just looking out from the midst of frustration.

Then there is the photography group I’m a member of. Here is where boundaries come in. there are people and there are people. The purpose of this group is to simply get together and perform activities like photo-shoots, which I’m crazy about. I will drive anywhere and get my equipment on me and spend hours tramping about. There is no pressure. I don’t have to talk, or demonstrate anything, and I have a great bunch of work to get to at the end of it all. I’m not there to be involved in drama or problems. That is why, the other day, there was a problem.

We are all sitting around having coffee after a productive, fun, and interesting shoot, and one person comes in and after some preliminary B.S., states that she has to learn LightRoom. I nodded in approval, and she realizes that I am still a beginner but would consider myself able to show someone some tips and tricks. She asked me if I would sit with her and teach her.

Now, there was a time, somewhere between when I retired and now, when I would have jumped on the opportunity to share what I know, and get someone going on this great app. But I said no. I do have my reasons. But I’m not for hire.

She seemed perturbed. She seemed to think that just by asking, she would gain the services of me. I seemed to think that she didn’t know when to come to a stop. There is no need to explain reasons why someone who basically has nothing else to do, has to comply with her problem. She canvassed some others, finding out that not only is there a LightRoom workshop coming up, but that some have actually taught themselves. I taught myself. I worked and worked, and am still working on learning it. I use the occasional YouTube presentation if I run into a problem. There is so much I’m not doing, I know that. But I will eventually get to where I can do what I want. I can learn, and I can always learn more.

So she seemed perturbed. It seems to me that there are boundaries in any situation. People cannot demand your time. People cannot feel bad if they ask an unwanted favor. People cannot expect to have all their needs fulfilled by others.

This same person should have been in the computer club. She had never heard of some terminology and never heard of some popular games. So she evidently has no time to relax. Just as some professionals who come into a career later in life, and don’t have an online presence, or need lessons in something like www.facebook.com, it is beyond my understanding why. The internet being the lifeblood it is in social and now more and more professional circles, is not something to be scoffed at. Privacy? We gave that up long long ago when we filed our first tax return, or got our social security number. There is no excuse for deliberate ignorance. It is not funny to say you don’t know how to turn it on. It is like saying you don’t know how to open a door, or dial a rotary phone.

At this point, it is not an age thing but an ages thing. Keep the distance, please, and plug into your own knowledge base before bullying someone you don’t even know and never met before, into defensive tactics. As for me, I’ll attend the workshop on this program and bet my bottom dollar, my new friend is not in attendance.

Dream, on.

“Last night, I had the strangest dream…” or so the song goes. Well, I did. I am proud to report that I remember at least 3/4 of that dream and will relate it to you with all the gaps.ImageIn my dream, I’m at a dark, old apartment house or hotel of some sort. There is a large bottom area and the apartments are up a staircase. The staircase has a large banister, and landings. There is no elevator, so a trip upstairs really is a trip.

In the big room are a lot of young people and a lot of food. Tables are set up and the people are eating and very very excited. It turns out that they are part of an acting company that does “Glee” a popular television series, that I personally don’t follow. It makes me nervous to hear all the old rock tunes and new ones, through the mouths of these strangers. I understand they are very talented and it’s a great show, but it’s not for me. So these people are on the way to New York City and are going to film the TV show. As I walk through the room to go upstairs to my destination, I hear a young man say “Hi, Joanne,” or something like that, and I am very happy.

Once I raise myself to the floor where I knock on a door to go in, I see a young girl standing there. I ask her what she wants. She says “I’m not going.” Apparently, she is disgruntled with the whole acting thing and wants to hide in the apartment with me and my girlfriend.

I call her my girlfriend, because I know it is another woman, I think it was a woman of color, who answered the door. At this point, there is a blank as to what the little girl finally did.

I do recall coming up the stairs and holding on to the banister, as I do to prevent falls or even dizziness if I should look down. But my hand brushes over some exposed, loose wires that are hanging over the banister. I look up and to see a wonderful, huge chandielier hanging over the stairwell. It is obviously priceless, but when I touched the wires, I manage to make it turn off. So I am worried now as to how liable I am to have destroyed the real centerpiece of the building.

Guilt takes over, and I meander to one of the stiarcase landings, where the person in charge of these things spends her days staring at a computer screen. She is alone and never talks to anyone, but seems content and perfect for that job. I tell her about my accidental damage to the light, and there is a blank after that. But no hard feelings. I did wonder what happened, and apparently never found out the resolution to the problem. The young, thin, tall woman at the computer is also a woman of color, with a shock of hair that I really admired.

Now I’m inside the apartment, and my friend is busy setting up and polishing a collection of small fiurines and pieces that a rich woman who lived or lives in the building has left behind, either from dying or well, just floating away. After all, this is a dream.

She calls me over and tells me to check the exquisiteness of the glass and pieces in the collection. In fact, we exclaim, how can so much beauty be in such small spaces! I witness one of them, a glass transparent head like a bust, and another that is in the shape of a glass castle. When we touch them, the castle emits colorful, shiny stars inside of it traveling upwards. Like a snowglobe, but the colored pieces are traveling up from the bottom of the piece. Similarly, the head shaped piece also colorfully fills when we touch it. We marvel at the beauty of these things and the other pieces in this collection, than the scene goes blank.

What are all these pieces but bits of what I did the day before. What are all these thoughts but how I want things to be. Small, simple, yet beautiful. Friends appearing, new and old. Being able to be completely honest about a mistake and not expecting animosity.

That is why this is called, “dream, on.”

Good Times Jo Style

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Yup, that’s me on the far left. Having tasted the elixir of freedom for the first time, I grew my hair and downgraded my fashion sense. Ironically, I and my dear colleagues were in the height of fashion and coolness.

This pic is the closest thing I may have to my 20th year. It was taken in 1973 when I was 22, but it doesn’t really matter. Looking back, that was a mere blip in my life. Back then, it was an endless uphill climb toward graduation that year.

Oh, St. John’s. Each and every day was a challenge to overcome the resistance of professors and instructors who rebelled against our rebellion. We were mean to them. We would not listen to their hours, their regulations, and we fell under the influence of the dreaded SDS, who were the Students for a Democratic Society (where are they now?). Sort of the White Panthers of the time. We were diametrically opposed to the efforts of our campus-based military recruiters, and we let them know it.

I was living at home, working in business offices in NYC on my off time (the clothes I wore also were the opposite of my student attire), not sure what I would be doing once sprung from what I didn’t appreciate at the time.

I should have been nicer to my teachers. I should have engaged the Jesuits in more conversation because of my deep interest in comparative religion and philosophy. To my credit, it wasn’t drugs or alcohol that drove my ambition. it was finding a medium and a skill that could sustain me.

Face it, Jo. You were clueless. The good times were a farce, a cover for the lack of parental and family guidance and support at a crucial time. Friends and mentors took the place of thoughtful analysis of my needs and comfort. My boundaries were wavy gravy. My home was a nest of nettles.

Despite the challenges of my 20’s, my outcome was successful, and I can look back on the good times and now realize that I did it my way. I found my way in the world and am perfectly content to write and create and grow, and never stop.

These are good times, and these will always be good.