Monthly Archives: February 2014

52 Photos: Mint to Lime

Apparently I missed the deadline, but I’m still going to post here. Last week’s them runs the green gamut. Here are a few from the archives, plus one I snapped while at my writing retreat in the rainforest last week.

Dreamy Dahlia

green serenity

Green Path

green path

Green Caterpillar

green caterpillar

And a little bit of a cheat, Marigold Melange from the shop “Marigold and Mint”:

Marigold melange

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On Failure

fail harder

My friend Claudette posted this piece today: Since when did the word ______ become dirty in yoga?. I wondered what the word was that filled in the blank, so I meandered over to see. Perfection. Oh. That word.

I read with curiosity, interested to see how he was going to unpack what perfection meant in the context of yoga. He does define it, but that wasn’t what struck me so much as this:

I need to deny this small, measly self within me that can’t tolerate perfection, I refuse to be too fragile to admit that I am not strong enough or devoted enough to reach for such an unattainable place. Instead I humbly get on my knees and cry out for the strength to fail, and to fail, and to fail, and to fail, as happily and as endlessly as is necessary to take one step towards the lofty mastery of perfection. Let me champion perfection, protect it, covet it, yearn for it, breathe it, know it, risk for it, love it, respect it, fear it, cherish it, tolerate my need for it, lay it all on the line for it.

And I realized something. I have defined my own failure as my inability to achieve. BUT. This idea of failing and failing and failing again and again and again in pursuit of a higher purpose – that is not failure. That is the story of Sisysphus as told by Camus, the man who found his meaning in repeatedly rolling the rock up the hill, not in attaining the summit. I doubt David Garrigues is an Existentialist, but it’s where I went.

I’ve judged myself by my inability to achieve, when I should have realized that what I lacked wasn’t results, but focus. I had no defining principle, no purpose that pulled me forward. I was merely bobbing along, adrift and responding to whatever I bumped into.

I’ve decided this year to let my writing be the defining center. And because I did that, I leapt at the opportunity to go on a writing retreat for 5 days when it appeared. In the past, I would have let it go, because I hadn’t had enough time to prepare myself. But what needed preparing? Only my mind, which was already ready.

Tell me about your failures. Fail harder. Fail softer. Fail funnier. Just keep failing.

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52 Photos: Hearts

This week’s prompt, in honor of Valentine’s Day, was hearts. I collected quite a few in a Flickr Gallery, but I’m going to show you a few of my favorites here.

I left my heart in San Francisco:

heart in SF

Temple bells, heart clappers. I took this picture in Chiang Mai, Thailand. It was quite common to see bells with the hearts hanging from them, like this:

temple heart bells

A string of bleeding hearts, which always remind me of our neighbor Esther, from when I was a child. Esther had a Hummel collection, and she told us if we touched the dolls, our fingerprints would stain them. She also had bleeding hearts in her garden.

bleeding heart

Hearts (and bones) loteria at the little Mexican shop on Broadway, on Capitol Hill:

Hearts and bones #loteria

And this coração on a wall in Lisbon, Portugal:

heart graffito

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Queer as in Weird

floral dress topiary

Recently I was having a conversation with some people about identity and labeling – specifically around sexuality. One of my friends asked me what queer meant to me. He felt it was vague and unspecific, whereas for me, I feel it’s more meaningful and a better descriptor than the other options that are available.

Erika Moen drew a comic a couple of years ago that encapsulates fairly well how I feel, but yesterday after another friend asked me what queer meant to me, I realized it didn’t tell the whole story.

I came out as bisexual over twenty years ago, and I felt that identity/label fit for a long, long time. I was (and am) attracted to both men and women. But over the last several years, as I learned more about the gender spectrum, I felt constrained by this particular label. As the comments and discussions around Facebook’s decision to allow people to indicate a “custom” gender illustrate, there are far more than the two genders we’ve been led to believe.

But there are a few other components that Erika’s comic doesn’t touch on. Just as lesbians and gay men get a label that doesn’t have sexual in it, neither does queer. If you ask most people along the spectrum of gender and sexuality, I’d guess that while sexuality is a component of who they are, it’s not THE defining quality.

Finally, as I indicate in the title of this piece, I like queer for its OTHER and much OLDER meaning: odd, strange, or weird. I’ve always felt a little bit like an outsider, even within supposedly queer space. I’m too much this or not enough that. I like that queer is inclusive, broad and maybe a little slippery. It makes it that much harder for other people to define me, and that suits me just fine.

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52 Photos: Crooked Lines

I have to admit, I was having a little trouble with the prompt this week. And then I started looking at my pictures from Yellowstone that I took last summer.

I LOVE this one of the wavy orange bacterial mats in the Grand Prismatic Spring disappearing into the fog:

grand prismatic spring

Here’s the same spring from a higher (and clearer) vantage point:

grand prismatic from above

This pinecone, with its zigs and zags:

pinecone

And finally, these burnt snags, pointing into infinity, but not straight away:

snags point to the sky

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52 Photos: All Dressed Up

Bandidos motorcycle club

Yesterday I returned from my week-long and now annual trip to Colorado to ski with my family. Last year I flew home with a bunch of guys who were returning from a motorcycle rally. Apparently their rally is the same time as my family’s annual ski trip. I had mentioned to my parents that this happened last year, and sure enough, when I got to my gate, there was a group of guys returning from their rally.

I am notoriously shy about taking pictures of strangers. I always like to ask permission, which I usually don’t screw up my courage to do. I was standing behind this man while waiting to board the plane. He had a freshly shaved scalp with an elaborate tattoo, a long, grey beard and this particular shirt on. I was admiring the design and asked him if I could take a picture of it. He gave me his permission.

As I pulled out my iPod to take the picture, though, the giant young man behind me gruffly said, “Don’t do that.” Before I could react, the man in front said, “I told her it was okay. It’s just my back.”

My subject didn’t make it easy for me to take the picture, so this was the best I could manage. After I snapped it, I apologized to the man behind him, telling him I didn’t mean to offend him. He waved me off, telling me there was no need.

The men, and they were all men, wore some variation of this Bandidos shirt. They marked themselves publicly, dressed up to signify their membership in this group. The second man’s behavior added weight to my impression of their cohesiveness. They had one another’s backs, literally and figuratively.

Here’s how other people interpreted All Dressed Up this week.

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