Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Selfies...Love 'em or Hate 'em


Of all the social ills befalling our society—and they are legion—I’d say the “selfie epidemic” is mostly a non-problem.          

Digital photography is a miracle.

Like the internet, which has allowed me to indulge my writing compulsion, digital photography has given me the opportunity to cater to my photography bug to an extent I never would have if the medium still consisted of 35mm SLRs, fragile film, fade-prone paper images and brittle negatives. 

I’ve always loved to take pictures—bought my first SLR with my first tax refund in 1974.  But I could never afford to acquire all the paraphernalia and classes it would have taken to properly indulge my fascination with photography…in the world in which I was raised, one did not “waste” thousands of dollars on a hobby, and I knew I was not smitten enough with the medium to develop it into a career.  So I invested in a string of bottom-of-the-line SLRs with inexpensive filters and equipment, purchased countless rolls of film, and amassed boxes of thirty years worth of prints and slides.  Some of them not too bad, given the bargain-basement gear with which I was working.

In 2003, I bought my first digital camera—a primitive thing, by today’s standards.  Can’t offhand recall how many megapixels it was…if there was indeed an entire megapixel to be had in those first heavily pixilated images.  So, through a subsequent string of ever-improving digital cameras, I’ve amassed a couple thousand digital images.  Again…some of them almost creditable. 

Yet in all those boxes, and among all those megabytes, I might personally own less than a dozen pictures of myself.  When you’re typically the one behind the camera, if you want to acquire a shot of yourself at family functions, weddings and vacations, you are obligated to walk up to some other person, hand them your camera and say, “Here…take a picture with ME in it, wouldya?”  And on the occasions when you actually screw up the courage to DO that, the resulting image generally makes you wish you hadn’t.  And you can hardly hand the camera back to your draftee photographer and insist they keep shooting until they come up with one you like.

The only recourse is the “selfie,” and I’ve been taking them for years.  Ever since I discovered that my cameras came equipped with self-timers that gave me the opportunity to be on both sides of the lens, so to speak.  Set the camera down (it’s a real luxury if you own a tripod), activate the little timer, click the shutter and run.  If you’re lucky, you’ll have enough time to collect yourself, pose and smile.  Not enough time, and you are reduced to a blur on the edge of the group…like a bit of accidentally captured ectoplasm.  Too much time, and your pose begins to decay…you lose concentration, turn your head, close your eyes, swat at a bee…  Creating the perfect selfie is a skill in its own right. 


Which is why “delete” is my favorite button on the camera, slightly edging out the self-timer.  I can take dozens of atrocious pictures—and believe me, I do—and with the touch of a couple buttons, *poof* they are gone forever.  Love, love LOVE!!!

My creativity knows no bounds when it comes to contriving to get myself into a picture...  

Self-styled  internet social analysts are declaring that the current “selfie” trend is an indicator of our society’s increasing narcissism and self-absorption.  I beg to differ.  I think that in most cases, selfies are the work of us eternally frustrated camera geeks who are finally able to create images which prove that WE were at the Washington Monument, or the Paul McCartney Concert, or Mount Rushmore, or Grandma’s house at Christmas.  We are totally in love with the fact that we can now be part of our own historical record.  

 So what harm does it do to lighten up and let folks smile, instead of cringe, at pictures of themselves?  There are way more important things to complain about…     


Monday, September 29, 2014



11 (eleven Listeni/ɨˈlɛvɨn/ or /iˈlɛvɛn/) is the natural number following 10 and preceding 12.
In English, it is the smallest positive integer requiring three syllables and the largest prime number with a single-morpheme name. Its etymology originates from a Germanic compound ainlif meaning "one left").

If a number is divisible by 11, reversing its digits will result in another multiple of 11.

11 is the atomic number of the element sodium.

Apollo 11 was the first manned spacecraft to land on the Moon.

In Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Konqueror for KDE, Google Chrome and Internet Explorer for Windows, the function key F11 key toggles full screen viewing mode.

The approximate periodicity of a sunspot cycle is 11 years.

After Judas Iscariot was disgraced, the remaining apostles of Jesus were sometimes described as "the Eleven"

"Eleven pipers piping" is the gift on the 11th day of Christmas in the carol "The Twelve Days of Christmas"

There are 11 members on a team in soccer, field hockey and American football.

The War to End All Wars (World War I) ended with an Armistice on November 11, 1918, which went into effect at 11:00 am—the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of the year.

The stylized maple leaf on the Flag of Canada has 11 points.

Being only one hour before 12:00, the eleventh hour means the last possible moment to take care of something, and often implies a situation of urgent danger or emergency.

Three films -- Ben-Hur (1959), Titanic (1997), and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) -- have each won 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture of their respective years.

But, most important of all…

Eleven is the number of years I have maintained this blog.

As of September 25, 2014, Coming to Terms is eleven years old.


(I’ll confess, I googled “eleven,” intending to educate myself on today’s magic number, but one of the things that came up was a wonderful Wikipedia page that did precisely that, and from which I have borrowed the choicest bits.)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Universe Hands Out Gold Stars

Lately, the Almighty has been blessing me with messages of encouragement.

Last Sunday at the Farmers Market, we had folks nearly turning themselves inside out to tell us how good our food was.  Honestly, it nearly brought me to tears.  All I could think was that in five years of running the restaurant, I don’t think I heard as much positive feedback as I got in four hours in Lincoln City on a Sunday afternoon. 

And it made me do a quick re-evaluation of exactly why it was that I was doing what I was doing. 

Somewhere in the back of my mind, I’m sure I have entertained the notion that I resurrected the concession business as my only viable choice after crashing and burning as a restaurant owner.  I haven’t felt any real excitement about it.  It was my fallback position.  Something to keep me busy, something I could do with one hand tied behind my back.  Something to make me at least LOOK like I was vital and productive.

NOT a good attitude to have, as a business owner.  It’s not reasonable to expect success, or even satisfaction, with something if you can’t stir up at least a minimum of enthusiasm for it, let alone passion.

So the Universe blessed me with a Day of Remembrance.  A day of reminding me just how good and successful my little pocket sandwiches are, and hinting at how far they could take me if I started really believing in them again.  Message received.  And appreciated.

Also last week, while we were camped up in the hills without cell service or internet, I nevertheless managed to tote my iPad along on the few occasions we did trek back into civilization to shop.  So I was able to check my email a couple of times during the week.  And lo and behold, I got a notice that someone had read and commented on one of last year’s “November marathon” posts.  November marathon?  Yes…last November, I made a commitment to post every day on one of my blogs…only to be met with the deafening silence of a disbanded community.  It was a depressing experience.  And probably a big reason why I have posted a total of 26 entries so far this entire year.  But like Cyrano de Bergerac, I fight on… 

Anyway, someone posted a comment on one of my anti-poor-bashing posts, thanking me for standing up for the less fortunate among us.  Funny…that particular post was not even one of my best of the month.  But still…it was nice to know that the message got out there, somehow…to some anonymous someone.  And while I was checking out the comment, I went back and read the rest of the essays I had posted that month, and some of them were still damned good.

Which may be a big reason why I have now posted two entries within a couple of days of each other…because maybe I’ve been reminded that I still have something worthwhile to say.  And that I can say it in a way that resonates with someone…if only myself.   

Seems like the Universe habitually throws me a rope and pulls me out of these quagmires of self-doubt in which I am prone to wallow.  Never a moment too soon. 

But then again, never a moment too late. 


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Polishing the Image

So I had my nails done today.  This was a “holiday” luxury I enjoyed for several years pre-café.  It was even an indulgence I continued to allow myself during the café years, in an attempt to make me feel like something more than the slave-labor sweat-hog that I actually was.

But I haven’t had nails since the restaurant closed.  I’ve had many excuses—that nails were too expensive and I didn’t have the money…that I didn’t want to spend the holidays as an “acrylic nail cripple”…that  my life consisted mainly of yard work, kitchen work and craft work, none of which was made easier by the complications of acrylic nails.  And all of these things were (are) true.  But I don’t think they were the REAL reason for foregoing my favorite winter-time indulgence.

The real reason?  Penance.  Punishment.  Self-flagellation. 

Somewhere in my exhausted and wounded mind, I believed I was no longer worthy.  I had failed, utterly and spectacularly, at the one thing I had believed was going to turn me into the grown-up businesswoman I had aspired to be since I was scarcely more than a little girl.  It had taken thirty years to bring the dream to fruition, and I went down in flames.  Yes, America, I do STILL see myself as a failure.  Though it may not have been—decidedly was NOT, in fact—entirely my fault, I nevertheless did fail.  It’s still a big, fat “1” in the loss column that will never go away.

And I have continued to fail, since.  Failed to “recover” as quickly as I thought I should (whatever that means…)  Failed to find a job, or even find any enthusiasm for a job-search.  Failed to climb back on the horse and become a contributing, tax-paying member of society again.  Failed to have faith in my writing, and just go for it (though I’m not really sure what that means, in this age of self-publication and blogs by every Tom, Dick and Mary…)  Failed, even, to honor my spiritual quest by taking it to a deeper level (and I’m not sure what THAT means, either.)

So I let my hair grow out.  Since menopause hit, my hair looks horrible if it gets any longer than chin length, but I told myself, too bad, you can’t afford a short haircut that needs to be trimmed every six weeks to the tune of thirty or forty dollars a shot, and you SURE can’t afford an $80 color job…EVER.  And I couldn’t possibly justify the expense of acrylic nails.  Or a pedicure.  Or anything that would make me feel prettier or sexier in this aging body that feels more like someone else’s body (can’t possibly be MINE) every day.

All I have to say now is—F**K that crap. 

Slowly, I’ve been “allowing” myself to indulge again.  Last spring, I started getting my hair cut and colored.  OMG, it looks SO much better short…I’m NEVER going back to trying to let it grow out.  In July, right before our gigantic Festival week, I got myself a pedicure.  Monday, I went clothes shopping at somewhere besides Goodwill for the first time in at least a year.  And today…TODAY I got nails. 

I’m SO done punishing myself.  SO done letting myself look like “less than” because I believed I WAS “less than.”  It’s a surefire recipe for depression:  self-inflicted and self-perpetuating.  And it doesn’t do anybody any good. 

Go me!