Monday, November 25, 2013

Old journals & visual learning

When people describe themselves as a "visual person", I am never sure quite what that means. Having something demonstrated for me tends to cement how to do it, rather than having it just explained, but written instructions work well for me too. Sometimes I think that not fitting quite in the box of these learning types is part of my Executive Functioning Disorder, and maybe it is, but it's also just a fact of life that definitions tend not to be one-size-fits-all-in-the-group. Sometimes I forget that I have EFD because I learned to work around it fairly well, since I was not diagnosed until 16 or 17 years old. The thing I hate about it now is that being aware of it doesn't make it any easier when I can't handle tasks like most people around me do.

I used to photograph almost obsessively. I have hundreds or thousands of photos spanning from 2002 to 2013, from my first digital camera till now. That is not including all of the physical prints or negatives that resulted from my handiwork with the family camera and my own point-and-shoot. There are boxes at my parents house filled with unsorted photos, many of which I took. After my brother was born, nobody else had time to take them and for whatever reason, I was interested. I remember having to pay for my own prints at Walgreens and Cameras Inc. (local camera/electronics store down the hill from home & across the street from the high school) and seeing the price raise over the years.

What do I do with them now? Prints can be put together in albums. Digital photos just get stored. I can compile them, use them for identification purposes, share them as art, but they mostly sit un-clicked. I like to review them sometimes, I like the nostalgia, and its good for my awful memory.

I have boxes full of old handwritten journals too. I'm not sure exactly how far back those span, but I know there are at least two from middle school, black pages written on with colorful gel pens. I had friends write notes for me on the covers. Some of the journals were gifts, probably from my godfather (who has excellent taste) and some I bought myself. I kept a lot in high school and would replace them when they were either full or I hit a milestone. Sometimes it was a birthday, other times it was the new year or start of a new school year. At some point, I made a promise to myself that I have mostly kept: once written, I cannot go back and read the journal. I made exceptions from time to time, such as when I needed to go back and reference a specific date or event,

For a long time, writing in my journal was a daily habit. I had online journals as well, though many of those have been deleted. My blog is not really a journal for me. There is a lot here that I don't write about. It's too public, which is funny considering some of the things that I do write about here.

What do I do with these journals now? Sometimes I want to revisit them and see where I've come from. It might be helpful to destroy the mental image I've built of myself over the years. People like me tend to glamorize negative events and depressive states. After I was on medication for depression & anxiety, I felt uncreative. I felt like I'd lost my muse. Depression is a terrible muse and I'd almost like to know that I was not as prolific as I thought I was. It seems much harder to be creative now, when I mostly okay most of the time, but I don't understand why.

Journals feel a bit useless over time. I could go back and , but the words evoke a much stronger emotional response than pictures do. It is painful, most of the time, to read about how angry I was in high school. It is also incredibly sad because I know how out of control my emotions were. It is something that I only partially forgive myself for, if I'm being completely honest, even though I know that I was ill and suffering from depression. That is really the horror of mental illness, that it is so deceptive that it can convince you that nothing is wrong. Or that you are wrong.

Mostly, I want my work, even my personal work of photo-taking and journal-writing, to be productive. I just don't know what to do with the materials now.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

50-acre Woods

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Hulky and I went up to Maine this past weekend to spend some time with my Baba. We had perfect fall weather and went for a hike in the woods. My grandmother owns some fifty acres of forest up there.

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This is The Park. The trees are all fairly slim. Years ago, my dad, sister and I would walk around here, clearing dead trees & low branches. It just needs a little cleaning up now. The trees have kind of taken care of themselves over the years.

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The path that used to cut from the pond back through the property across the pond is fairly overgrown now. I wonder what it would take to clear it.

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The water level at the swamp is either different than I remember at this time of year or it has just changed over time. That grassy area used to have more water.

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I remember struggling to climb up this rock as a kid.

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The sounds in here were so familiar to me. We took a few moments to just listen to the quiet. My tinnitus didn’t seem nearly as loud. The rustling in the distance made me think of the highway you can always hear at home, but it was all trees and wind. I forgot what it was like to crunch through those woods. We wondered what it would be like to camp out in the woods sometime, though unfortunately, the ideal season for that (minimal bugs) is also the most dangerous (hunters).

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Back at the house, the view from the porch of Baba’s driveway and the pond.

Friday, November 08, 2013

A boring post: cleaning my dressers

This post is just a brain-dump, so I can try to sort out what I want to do with my clothing situation.

Last night, I emptied out both of our dressers. We have a 6-drawer Ikea MALM (horizontal) in our bedroom and a 6-drawer vertical, white dresser in the guest bedroom. The MALM we bought together when we were still living at Hulky's parents' house, to replace two tiny dressers that Hulky had since he was a little kid in California (before 10 yrs old). The white dresser I bought off Craigslist while I was in college, to replace the steamer trunk I'd been using for my clothes for several years. The steamer trunk was my mom's when she was in college or living on her own for the first time and it's now our coffee table (I'd love to install some wheels on it).

In the main dresser, I just emptied out my side. I re-folded things that were messy and made some piles on the bed for sorting. Here's a rough breakdown of what I have:

  • many (at least 5, but less than 10) graphic t-shirts, most of which are black. At least three are band t-shirts that I am wearing to threads and will seriously mourn when they are too gross or threadbare to wear anymore. Those needs re-dyeing.
  • ~4-5 plain long-sleeve shirts. One is a thin, thermal shirt with camo-print on it that I've had since early high school. It barely fits now, but I can't bring myself to part with it unless I find a reasonable replacement. Maybe I just need more green shirts.
  • ~3-4 plain t-shirts (two of which are black polos, the others are collar-less). I hate most of these.
  • a multitude of tank-tops (~4 have built-in bras, plus at least two ribbed ones and three spaghetti strap tanks).
  • plentiful socks (split about evenly between ankle socks & black athletic socks, which I bought in college to wear with my boots). I threw out some ankle socks that always fell off my heels and still have a good amount left.
  • sufficient number of bras, considering I don't wear them very often since this summer. I think I'll get rid of a few of the underwire ones, but want to keep some that fit. I put a couple that are too large into the donate pile.
  • plenty of underwear, in fact I could downsize, but I like them all and they all fit.
  • ~3 pairs of pants that are not jeans, plus ~7 pairs of jeans, not including a pair that is too large, which I bought over the summer while I was cycling (so they have been put aside, with my shorts [3 pairs], for next summer). Uh. So I guess I don't need any pants, unless I want some dress pants since I have none.
  • a bunch of men's small t-shirts, for sleeping in. I was able to pick out a couple to donate, but most have some kind of sentimental value. I put a few aside for storage.
  • 3 pairs of pajama pants: one fleece, two cotton.


So... I'm not really lacking in casual clothes. I can't bring myself to part with any of my graphic t-shirts. There are ones that I rarely wear (but sentimental value because of who gave them to me keeps me from getting rid of them) and I [I]could[/I] get away with much fewer articles of clothing, but I don't really need to. The trouble lies in that I don't get to wear my tank-tops very often (I wore them under button-up shirts to work sometimes this summer, but I'll have to make another post for when I go through my closet), or my graphic t-shirts. I can't wear them to work, except if they're under a sweater/hidden. I want to get more basics so I can mix and match because I don't like my small selection of long-sleeve shirts or plain t-shirts very much. But I don't really need them so I'm having a hard time figuring out if I should buy anything. I've been getting by just fine with what I have, and everything fits.

After re-sorting my clothes, I had much more space in the dresser. Of course, we have a full laundry basket, so these assessments were made without completely full drawers.

I moved to the other room and found some shorts I don't wear (donate pile), some pants I had forgotten about (moved to main dresser, because they fit again, though one pair needs a button & to be re-dyed black so that's on my sewing table), and some sentimental value items. I shifted a few things from the main dresser to here, like some off-season items, though there wasn't room for the tank-tops yet. I was able to pick out a few things to throw out or donate, however, so even though the dresser is still very full, it's not as packed.

In the white dresser, there are a few drawers that don't have regular clothes in them. The top drawer has some paperwork & odds and ends, like my rarely used make-up bag and my hair-dye bottles. One drawer has our bathing suits (Hulky's two pairs of trunks and my collection of bikini pieces, plus our rash guards). Another drawer has two floofy skirts that take up the whole thing. One skirt, I am definitely keeping. When I am leaner, it still fits fine around my waist and it's too cool to discard (broomstick style skirt with angled pinstripes). Another was a sewing project that I haven't worn since college (made from a former ballet costume, it's pink) and probably will not again, but I want to keep the materials. Until I organize my sewing space, it stays where it is.

All of this was just done so I could try to figure out what I need or what I could justify buying with a gift certificate I have for a clothing store in Bath, Maine. The Co/Op has a ton of items for around $20 each and it's all pretty good quality. We're going up to Maine this weekend and I want to swing into the store to browse for a little. Most likely, I won't find anything, but it's looking like I can really just splurge and spend that $50 gift certificate on anything I want because I don't really need to fill any gaps in my wardrobe.

If I have time tonight, I'll do a quick sort through my closet before we head up to Maine and maybe do a post on "closet shopping", aka. re-finding things in my closet. I have too many shoes that I don't wear, but can't bring myself to pare down on the selection.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Links & reflections on body image


Something I have been coming to realize on my own - My baby family (as in, my new family unit in all its youth) is a lot more work than I expected. It's odd because I don't really feel different than before. What has changed is more than just signing some papers and having a party, and not just in a taxable sense. Hulky and I are both more aware of each other and how we relate to each other. It's scary, but it's exciting and I feel very strongly that we can build a strong family unit together.

Marriage is for this guy.
Marriage Isn't For You - My sister-in-law shared this on Facebook the other day. It came at a good time for me. The title of the article isn't what you think. It's not that you don't get married for yourself, but that marriage is stronger (probably, what do I know at only four months into mine?) when you treat it like it is all about the other person who has entered into it with you. If they do the same, you are both cared for. I have a habit of getting too wrapped up in my own needs and fears. I end up neglecting the other person in the relationship. I want to be a supportive wife and the only way to do that is to just be it. So I am trying. Choosing to get married was about trusting that I could do my part and make this work. We can't really know what's going to happen down the line, we can only try. Maybe this is stuff I should have thought about before we got married, but thinking about it at any point is probably good.

Growing Eden, Twenty-something and pregnant in New York City (affiliate link) - I read Kate's blog, Eat the Damn Cake, and so I thought I'd buy her book. I'm not too far into it yet, seeing as it just came out today, but it's great. I don't know what kind of person I'd recommend this book to, but it's definitely a book for me. Kids are definitely a few years down the line for me, but I've had Kate's blog makes me consider my conceptions of beauty a lot and how they're imposed on me by others. Her book is making me consider how diet plays into that as well. I see so many people trade the term "diet" for "way of eating" with no real difference in how that effects their self-image or self-worth. I don't think there's anything wrong with wanting to lose some body fat, to an extent, but there is such an overwhelming voice in our society that you are either THIN and successful or FAT and a waste. It's awful. I feel guilty for trying to discuss it, having always been thin.
This rhetoric of "get your body back" is so frustrating. Women are always being told to seek out some mythic, perfected version of our own bodies. The true body. The one you can finally be proud of and simultaneously stop thinking about. Wouldn't that be amazing? To find your way to your perfect body and then just stop? (From Growing Eden)
I guess what it comes down to is this: in order to be happy with your body, you have to learn to be happy with it at any size or shape. Waiting "to be thin" or "to be fit"... you might never realize when you are there.

I just started a kickboxing class last night. Getting over how self-conscious I am of making odd noises and moving my body in unfamiliar ways is hard. It will be a process. I hope I can stick with this and start to have fun. I'd say it's enjoyable, but not really fun yet. I am trying not to be too hard on myself about not being good at something unfamiliar, but it's a long-ingrained habit.