Posts Tagged ‘effort’

Rapture

21 May 2011

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Dear J-

I suppose that rapture is one of those things you can’t really prepare for: if you’re ready for it and it doesn’t end up happening then it’s probaly not going to happen for you — after all you can’t be so arrogant as to believe you will. You just have to hope, after all. I wasn’t sure if six PM was a matter of your local time or GMT — it doesn’t always make sense for the higher powers to work on your schedule. The right way to live in order to ascend when the time comes is no doubt laid out in religious texts but there’s no guarantees and that strikes me as an engineer as being too inexact. You’ll know you were right when the time comes but until then you have to take it on faith. That’s powerful stuff.

Faith means different things to different people. I take it to mean believing things will turn out as you hope and that’s not enough all the time. Predestination precludes faith, doesn’t it? If you think that you can do all the right things and still get the wrong outcome then what was the use of the faith? Job outlines the requirements of the patient sufferers who have the belief that their struggles do not go unnoticed, their sacrifices not rewarded. I like that idea — yet I can’t believe in it. Call it cynicism or a disturbing lack of faith but it seems too convenient to say that because I don’t believe — secretly or wholeheartedly believe — that’s why it never happens for me.

Besides which I have enough miracles in my life as it is. I strolled them both to the library and that was pretty inpossible to even consider a few months ago. With Calcifer starting in on solid foods and figgy being mostly content to spend time together without too many demands (she can’t be that incredibly demanding for a four-year-old, can she?) we are able to hang together without too much fuss. Faith also means relying on the family to get the right things done and that’s something I can get wholeheartedly behind.

Mike

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Tired Body

1 May 2011

Dear J-

My feet hurt. The short story involves SeaWorld and adding weight — at least twenty pounds of squealing, kicking baby in a Baby Björn (lately we have learned how excited he is to see people, and the long car trip didn’t help him love being strapped into the bucket any) — while walking all over the park. Just one more exhibit, we think, or one more animal, one more one more. One more minute, one more step, one more bite; where does it end up? Welcome back to the reality of being twenty years from high school, when you might have been able to shake off hamburgers and shakes with impunity.

My doctor has been particularly aggressive about my cholesterol numbers and I wonder if the excuses I tell myself — it’s hereditary, right — the numbers aren’t that bad — aren’t justifications to not take these things seriously, diet and exercise. The way we ate on our trip you’d think I was still twenty, far from dad of two, slowly gaining weight and gray hairs, sore feet and all. Dole out the praise slowly but listen to the criticism closely if you want to ever change yourself.

Tonight after her afternoon exhaustion nap figgy is still calling out from the corner room, asking who wants a cupcake (assembled from LEGO bricks) or to get their face painted. It reminds me that the changes are not all negative lately. As we tread long paths through weekends and evenings, we need to remind ourselves that the sore feet are badges of honor. If change comes easy we fail to value it.

Mike

Long Day

26 December 2010

Dear J-

It’s 10:30 and I can’t believe I haven’t had a spare moment until now — I suppose there are other things I could have put off but between having the boy strapped to me all day (hey, I don’t get any of that during the week) and the girl running around ragged (the energy expenditure was staggering, as figgy took a three-and-a-half hour nap this afternoon) we haven’t had a lot of time to ourselves. I go back to the lessons of Shrek 4 here again — if that’s what you wanted, clearly you weren’t thinking right when you decided to have kids.

We’ve settled into a routine of sorts, or really just reverted back to the way things were three years ago: the radius of action is fairly limited to where we can go before Calcifer needs to eat again, although we have been experimenting successfully with bottle feedings (the beauty of this morning was that that was the first time in five weeks that Calcifer’s meal was not delivered by mom in one shape or another — the first bottle feeding happened while I was at the ER with figgy).

The night’s too short for my-kids-are-cuter discussions and recapping the lowlights* isn’t of anyone’s benefit so I’d better execute a mercy ending worthy of the Chargers** and sign off for the night.

Mike

* My particular favorite from today: sitting down in a restaurant, having figgy reach up and jostle Calcifer awake and then having to joggle the baby while trying to eat.

** If you haven’t been following, they’re out of the playoffs with their loss to now 4-11 Cincinnati and I’d expect there to be some reckoning in the offseason, although to expect AJ Smith to do anything actually, you know, productive or rational is probably too much. AJ’s been dubbed the “Lord of No Rings” if that makes you feel any better.

One for the Album

6 December 2010

Dear J-

There’s a picture of us as a family before kids, before San Diego that I used to keep on my desk when I worked at Worldcom. theVet had won some sort of a raffle where the prize was a portrait sitting with a photographer who specialized in pictures of folks with pets. In retrospect the picture is technically okay: flat, low-contrast lighting, and the kind of background you used to see all the time in school photos, something like a used dropcloth painted in earthen tones. The trick of portrait photography is making a connection with the subject, and there’s no way you can get the pets to not be nervious in a new situation — you can tell where we’ve hooked our fingers into collars, or grip fur a bit forcefully to get a natural-relaxed looking family group. But you can’t be too hard — what kind of person is even able to manage pets, people, and a camera simultaneously?

We finally managed to get enough time to wrangle a picture of everyone for our annual portrait today; the logistics* were fierce for people whose idea of planning generally involves figuring stuff out in the mornings, and wrangling one kid is hard enough — keeping figgy’s interest level high while making sure Calcifer wasn’t screaming his head off proved to be a tricky balancing act. Regardless, we were able to get some acceptable shots along with plenty of comically, ridiculously bad ones; in the process I’ve learned and humbled myself: natural llighting is an amazingly tricky ordeal and folks like Kirk Tuck who make it look easy have all my respect. Also, if it were a paying job I don’t think I could have gotten away with as much swearing as we ended up doing. It was frustrating at the best of times.

Yet it turned out better than expected; we have two more weeks at home before I head back to work at work and there’s no way I would have had the energy or inclination to set up and cajole today after a full day of work — or a full day of play as the weekends usually turn out. The more we do the more we want to do next year — before it was gathering a few casual snaps through the year, but this year a near-formal portrait sitting, dressing up and setting up, and next year, who knows? I suppose this is why professional photographers do get paid well — so that the shots you send out don’t have the painful amateur air about them, the feeling of half-assed effort and surprise. They say that consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds, but there’s something to be said for effortless repeatability. So, for next year: manual focus, manual exposure, tripod higher, reverse the angle, incorporate backgrounds.

Mike

* Furniture was moved; lamps were brought forth; a tripod and a flash were in play at one point. We settled on no flash but with a tripod, outlining my poor tripod discipline as well as my fear of flash.