Saturday, March 31, 2012

Another Story

It has been a long time since I last relayed one of my coma stories. This one takes place on the West Coast.

As we rounded the bend, the cliffside to our left blocked the view of the outer lane of the road. Slowing for the curve, and looking over the edge of the road, I could see the beginnings of a pull out. Braking hard not for fear of danger but simply for the chance to get out of the van and stretch our legs. It was only as the tires met the gravel that I realized that we would have to leave our van on the side of the road. A huge tractor trailer had blown a tire and was using the ditch adjacent to the pullout as a way to lift the truck enough to change the tire.

Scuffling my dry boots along the sharp gravel, and taking in the salted air... I made my way over to the trucker to offer my help. Instead I found him beside his truck, hat down over his eyes, asleep beside the front of the cab; taking advantage of the late morning shade thrown by the cliff and the truck. I was guessing that he had either tried fixing the flat during the night and had given up, or he was waiting on a wrecker to come.

He heard my footsteps and looked up, waiting for me to ask the obvious questions. He looked like he had been asked the same questions a hundred times. Turned out that he had. He had been stuck in this very spot for weeks. Everyday began the same,... some kind samaritan would wake him, and he would still be sitting there, waiting to fix this broken down truck. Some days it would be a flat tire, other days it would be an engine problem.

Looking past him a little further into the pull out, I saw that there was a small restaurant just beyond the truck. The establishment was toenailed into the terra-firma with not much more than hope and a few beams. As I walked closer I could see that the path to the entrance divided with one small footpath leading right to the edge of the embankment. From the doorway I realized that there was a stairway that led down the cliffside to the ocean below. Looking at the stairs, I noted that it would take a good twenty minutes to make that climb down and probably twice that long coming back up.

The beach below looked like even on a sunny day it would be cold and wet. Littered with fist-sized stones and wet sand, it was certainly not worth the trek down the stairs. The flotsam that made untidy piles near the cliff's bottom were as grey and nondescript as the sand and flat water. Tangles of ropes, logs, bits of colored plastic, and here and there, recognizable bits of detritus.

Seeing that there might be something more suitable to my taste, I entered the doorway of the restaurant and was surprised to find it even smaller on the inside than what I had assumed it would feel like from the parking lot. The ceiling didn't quite brush the top of my head, but nevertheless gave the feeling that one good rainstorm might just collapse the building entire.

There was no waitress at first glance around the room. No one eating either. The silent cash register was kept company by a small stained sign indicating that I should sit anywhere I liked.

It was only after I sat down at the counter that I realized that there was no smell of anything cooking. No sounds of a griddle sizzling. No dishes clanking. No coffee cups being slurped from. As I looked out the small window in the door, I realized that I could almost hear the dust settle.

I inhaled and as I slowly let the air out, I realized that I had no air to breathe out. I pushed and looked at my chest as though somehow it might cough and find air to expel. Nothing came. Like rain on a tin roof, the dust came down. The soft dust drummed weeks and months away.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

This isn't sleep

I have been shooting self-portraits quite a bit this winter while working on new lighting ideas for my clients. It is amazing to me how much of the emotion in a photograph is directly related to how the light falls on the subject. Most photographers over-light their subjects... effectively creating deer in the headlights. I have been trying to find ways to work with the darker side of light... the shadows that surround our every move.

I have had issues sleeping for the past week or so. Normally my head hits the pillow at 11pm and I am out till 6:30am. Solid black. No tossing or turning. Certainly no waking up. Not this week. I have woken up at 3am almost every night for over a week. Nothing external seems to be causing these abrupt awakenings... but there I am, staring at the alarm clock. Always right around 3 o'clock...give or take five minutes. The strange part is that I find myself awake. Not that I am not tired, but in that moment, I am suddenly very awake... as though something important was happening.

When I brought this up with my therapist this week, she made light of the enormous number of things bearing down on me right now. Her comment: do you feel a little stressed?
Gosh, hmmm. Uh... yeah. Kinda.
Trying NOT to be stressed about this impending surgery is nearly impossible. Try as I might, every time I try to imagine myself back on the gurney, IV in my arm.... I make it about that far... and the cold sweat starts, my blood pressure takes off and pretty quickly, I am in a full blown panic.

Between this, the PTSD, waiting for the custody issue to be resolved, waiting to be back at work with my photography (hopefully in May or June!)... it just feels like a whole lot of hurry-up-and-wait.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Looking ahead three weeks

Three weeks from today, I will be back in surgery. This time for a gastric sleeve. Bariatric surgery is nothing to sneeze at... but after spending the past two and a half years trying to lose the weight that I was forced to gain in order to heal the wound from the botched surgery.... part of me is just frustrated. The weight needs to come off now so I can have the surgery that will repair my intestines, remove the colostomy and repair the multiple hernias.  That can't happen until the bariatric surgery has done its job...and time and exercise have done theirs.

As one can imagine, I am dreading this process.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Groomin' da fuzz

There is something so unusually sincere about Georgia Rose's facial expressions. Her ability to go from being very dog-like and playful, goofy even... to suddenly being thoughtful, contemplative... even moody.... it is just wild. I have never known another animal to exhibit such a range of emotions. I would be the last person to ascribe human behaviors to an animal... but with Georgia, it isn't avoidable. Folks joke that she is a kid in a dog suit. 

Last week she got to go to the groomer's again. She needed her spring cleaning. Came home and was bouncing everywhere. Sideways, overhead, upside down. She just needed to frolic and pronk. Now that she didn't have hair in her eyes, and she could see where she was bouncing... all she wanted to do was bounce! So we picked up her Frisbee and started tossing it around. Not five minutes went by before she was snatching them out of the sky... for the first time! She could see them and she wanted to pull them down so she could nom on them. And nom she did. Completely destroyed the hard plastic Frisbee. Turned it into a plastic sieve. The Kong frisbee however, is still intact and looks like it can continue taking abuse for a lot longer. 

Tomorrow, Georgia and I are off to see how much trouble we can get into at one of the State Parks further north of us. It is going to be a cool day, after weeks of remarkably unseasonable weather, it is cold again. Time to get out there and enjoy it while it lasts!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Uncomfortable Procedures, Dogtown, Friends, and Fears

This morning I went up to Rochester for a "procedure", which as I imagine Dave Barry might say, involves feeling unfomfortable while it happens and more uncomfortable talking about it afterwards. Gotta love "procedures". 

Luckily I had company, thanks to my friend Carol. Giving up her day off to drive alongside me, keeping my mind occupied as we drove the two hours each way to Rochester and back. 

After my visit to the doctor, we had a wonderful lunch with our mutual friend, Sabra. Talking about clay and glazes with Carol and Sabra was the perfect way to shake off the uncomfortable aspect of my morning.... all the while, chowing down on Dogtown dogs with gusto!

We went next door to Genesee Pottery and checked out the latest exhibit of woodfired and salt fired pots from two Alfred grads. Wonderful work. Made me think about woodfiring and soda firing. Along with that came all sorts of memories of stuff I never got to try, things I wanted to push a little more, ideas that just never made it to fruition. I always assumed there would be plenty of time.

It made me start thinking about what I might have done differently if I had known that I wouldn't be making pots forever. More than once on Clayart, Tony Clennell has opined about how potters only have so many pots in their hands. We'll only make just so many pots before we are done, and we never know that number.  Would I have made the same pots if I had known that I wouldn't ever be able to make more after my surgery? 

The two images I included in this post are ones that came home from galleries where they had been held on consignment since 2009. It is kind of strange to wake up and find your not-so-ancient history staring at you across the table. On some level, I assumed all these pots were gone. Having them back is odd. I am not sure whether to sell them, save them, give them away or smash them. Invariably, everyone wants me to give them away... which begs the question about the perceived value this work actually holds. Seeing as how there wont be more pots in years to come, what do you think I should do with this tiny pile of pots?