Archive | January, 2010

(dis)order up

29 Jan

last weekend we took a mini-adventure to Chicago – one of my ulti-mo favorite cities. there is just something about the connectedness of a big city – the way the trains and busses run like veins through every neighborhood, making it possible to get anywhere for a few dollars and some time to kill.

city life – even for a weekend – engages a part of me that lies dormant in my normal Nashville routine – the part of me that LOVES to make a plan, follow directions, strategize, and be in control. i get a little bit of a travel high from going through the train turnstile, fighting the rush of people to find which train we need to hop, following the intricately color & number-coded signs to get exactly where we need to be to hop the next bus at the right time and so on. it’s like beating the system by getting it right. total victory for a wanna be control freak.

so most of the 3 day trip i was riding high, feeling like i had that city beat. fast forward to the frigid, windy, snow-slapping-my-face walk back to Union Station followed by a 45 minute nightmare in the Amtrak station and it’s a whole different story. i’ll spare you the details because they get me in a huff – long line, zero organization, mass confusion, the usual – but by the time we boarded the train leaving town, i was exhausted and defeated.

on the way home, i did a little self-analytics – always dangerous, but unavoidable on a train ride in the dark when you can’t lean your chair back far enough to fall asleep. my conclusion: when i know the rules and can see the signs, then i know how to win. i just follow them and reap the rewards of a well-ordered life. when i can’t see the rules or they just plain don’t exist, that’s when the sweaty, anxious, illogical part of me takes over and my frustration leads to failure.

now the question is – why do i feel such a need for control, an inkling for order that cannot be itched? that i’m not sure about just yet, but my hunger (literal) to get back to Chicago has led me to this: control is like deep-dish pizza, a slice is sweet success, but none at all OR the need for too much spells bad news everytime. and with that, i leave you for lunch. pizza, i think. order up!

not me

21 Jan

i didn’t take this picture. a photog named Matthew McDermott – a nice sounding name – captured this precious moment. then i pulled it off twitter. i hope he doesn’t mind.

not only am i not the eye behind the lens, but i’m obviously not the glowing boy being pulled out of what’s left of his home in Haiti. i’m not the thin mother with strength beyond what she thought she would ever need. i’m not one of the heroes in red and white hats – like candy stripers with a kick, delivering hope and rescuing whatever they can find in a desolate place.

i’m not even the nameless guy in the background, so blurry you can’t see him clearly, but straining to catch a glimpse of the beautiful life being shared with this small circle of clapping spectators, the world of outsiders weeping from afar, and now – me.

i’m not there, but i could have been. and when i look at this picture, i feel pretty close.

my expertise ‘hood

17 Jan

they say you should write what you know, stay put in a neighborhood where you are the expert.

i hope there’s not a parallel here to the well-known statistic that the majority of car accidents happen within a mile of your home. that’s enough to make me write about things i know nothing about just to avoid whatever the writing equivalent of a car accident is – carpal tunnel? stunted imagination? i’m not sure, but that’s not the point. statistics (and apparently over-stretched metaphors) are not my expertise.

but what is? that’s the question i keep wrestling with as i embark on a writing routine. what do i have to say that is unique and untapped and all those other good/overused writing words. i get a headache just thinking about it and am stumped to the point of creative paralysis by the expectations.

i understand and agree with the premise – i know nothing about aquatic biology so shouldn’t be writing a textbook on the subject. that makes sense. but isn’t there something wonderful about an outsider’s view, about the new perspective a novice on the subject might bring? if i’ve seen a giant squid then i can only describe what i’ve seen to be true. but if i haven’t, hmmm… then the sky (or the ocean) is the limit. right? maybe.

for now, i’ll plan on extending my expertise neighborhood to bikeable distances. think six degrees of separation. the truth of the matter is i don’t feel like much of an expert at anything, so stretching the limits of “write what you know” is my only plausible option. here’s to hoping it stretches and challenges me, makes me an expert at something, and that maybe i meet some new neighbors in the process. welcome to the ‘hood.