The Straw That Wrote The Camel’s Back

PhotoAfter the vacation, I’ve been thinking over a few things that apply here and, if you’re patient, you’ll get to my point. This is normally fodder for my other blog, but I think it fits here on this site to this readership.

I’ve been a workaholic as far back as I remember. The reasons for this I understand, the effects understandable.

There are people floating around who know aspects of me – the Software Engineer who finds pragmatic solutions where others don’t, the writer whose work is liked by a small audience who reads it in secret and doesn’t share much, the person with a camera who gets labeled a photographer to get discounts – no, I will not do your wedding – the peculiar brother, the hard to understand cousin, the loyal friend, the uncompromising person who has learned to pick his battles, the sound of reason in the conversation and at the same time the frustrating person who isn’t convinced by passion.

In writing about a character writing itself, as well as experiences over the days since my return to Tobago, I began to think of how we write ourselves. And, over the course of the  last few days while encountering people who saw some of my printed photographs, I heard people talking about, ‘my art’, and even say the word, ‘artist’.

‘Art’ and ‘artist’ do not resonate with me. They conjure images of self-congratulating groups of people swilling cheap wine and cheese, of the cliche poet dressed all in black screaming into a microphone with the angst a good parent would have slapped them for – or is it more politically correct to put them in a timeout? Either way, you get the point. I don’t people who call themselves artists in that much regard – I don’t dislike them, I just don’t identify with them and their clique.

I play with things. That’s what I do. That’s what I’ve always done. It scares some people if you say that, so you learn not to say it, but I play with things. Objects, ideas, code, technology, words, light, whatever. I like to learn, and I like to be off the beaten path – spending a lot of my own time over the years doing just that, to the benefit of employers that never truly appreciated it.

I’m a recovering workaholic. The vacation, the writing, the playing – that shifted my perspective to it’s natural center, and what I found was the way I should have looked at the years of my almost completely unvacationed professional life:

What people call my work is just the collateral damage of me becoming better at things through experimentation. My life is my art, my work – what I leave behind is simply collateral damage of all of that. That stuff is not that important.

And my point here is that we have cultures and pressures from society that do not let us look at things that way, that make us believe that we are what we do. We’re not what we do, we’re what we become by doing.

With that as a focus decades ago, I can’t help wondering what I would be like now. I don’t expect that I would be much different, but knowing that would probably have made life a little more contented when things were not going the way I would have wanted.

You are not what you do, you’re not even what you’ve done. You are what you’re becoming, only partly because of what you do and have done.

Become.

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If Not Labeled Obscenely…

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It probably helps if your items are fuzzy when they pass through Customs and Excise, Trinidad and Tobago, to pass for not being indecent or obscene.

Not long ago, Trinidad and Tobago was dealing with a strange situation – whether ‘sex toys’ were illegal to import. There were first stories saying that sex toys were banned, and I noted this as peculiar and took the media to task on it for doing less research than I did in less than an hour.

Then, there was a rebuttal by Trinidad and Tobago Finance Minister Colm Imbert saying all of this was fake news – though I wonder if this was all a setup to get  a Minister to discuss sex toys.

The question, though, was what was considered indecent and obscene – or not. Lyndon Baptiste (RedWallNews) expressed this clearly in one of his videos.  2 months in prison for being a ‘rogue’ or ‘vagabond’? 

It’s a lot like the Law in Trinidad and Tobago that leaves whether automobile tinting is too dark and thus illegal – it’s at the discretion of someone in positional authority.

Positional. Sex Toy. Umm.

If only someone with journalistic integrity and maturity would delve deeper into this issue for the ladies – and I suppose at least some men.

For lack of anyone with these attributes, I decided to do it myself.

Before I left for Tobago, I went on Amazon.com and searched for what might be considered an ‘adult toy’ for women – men tend to take things in hand – and was amazed at the wide…. array… of things available to women. My. Word. Ladies, I had an idea, but my word, are you catered for.

Since I’m presently not in a relationship and have no idea what a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ one might be, I opted for something that might be less likely to be fingered by Customs and Excise. After all, though I was making sure I had a vacation in between, I wasn’t too interested in being called a ‘rogue’ or ‘vagabond’ over this, and I certainly didn’t want to spend 2 months among hardened criminals:

“What are you in for?”
“Customs…”
“Smuggling?”
“You could say that…”

So I did a search related to internal massage. Given the number of orifices on the average human – are you counting right now? – I thought that might be more likely to pass the test versus, “BIG LIFELIKE —– VIBRATING D–D- WITH MOUNTING SUCTION CUP”.

I ordered it. While it spent it’s time in a box being shipped, I considered the possibilities. Should I do a faux interview with it about Customs and Excise should it make it through? I decided it should have a stutter, but since it was made in China I wasn’t sure how to do the voice. It took a while, but it got here . When I spoke with the young female clerk when I picked it up, she confirmed my suspicions.

It’s really about what you call it.

What’s more, it seems that they threw in a ‘finger massager’ as well. I didn’t even know that was a thing.

So ladies – and I suppose some men, too – just be careful with what it’s called. ‘Discrete’ shipping is typical with such items, I saw, but what they call it might mean the difference between pleasure and pain.

Items for this research have already been donated to a suitable… charity. 

Are You A Photographer?

PhotoI’m having a few pieces printed for myself and the young woman asks a question.

“Are you a photographer?”

I have a camera. I capture what electrons are bounced around onto a sensor through optics, a science that Sir Isaac Newton was kind enough to toss down through history through the centuries such that I might have a copy of his work on my shelf. I understand the duality of light.

And I failed art in secondary school. Well, I didn’t really fail as much as could never finish the poster paint homework in time for it to dry for class, but I knew I wasn’t good at it.

I know people I think of as photographers. They’ve spent a lot of time doing it, as much time as I’ve spent commanding computers through glorified reusable, self-referential and adaptable logic.

But then, too, I’ve brushed my teeth longer more frequently than that. Am I a tooth-brusher?

Realizing the moment had drawn on too long, I responded.

“I practice photography, among other things.”

“Well, if you give us your information, we can give you discounts….”

And this is how you get people claiming to be photographers, tossing ‘Studios’ behind their name.

I shrugged. “No ‘Studios’ here.”

More photography is planned on RealityFragments.com.

The Need For A Vacation.

Sunrise, Batteaux Bay, TobagoI took some time off – got out of the new home, got away from the old problems and the old thoughts. There were times that I took some time for myself, and those who know me well will say that it’s actually rare for me to not be alone somewhere, but it’s not quite the same.

There’s a need to be elsewhere, physically, in a completely different environment. Over the decades, I count two vacations where I was able to do that, and this was the second one.

That should strike people as peculiar – I mean, software engineers used to make decent money, a few still do, but over the years it hasn’t always been a matter of having the money as much as the time. It’s also a matter in the United States that has people writing articles, such as , “Why America has Become The No Vacation Nation“.

There have been life changes for me recently with work and living that have allowed me some time to reflect on ways forward – something I worked hard and long for. I did, disappearing and unplugging for the most part away from almost everyone. For 10 days was ‘offline’. This gave me time to think about things, something that I’ll write more about on RealityFragments.com.

The point here is that I had no idea how necessary it was until I was away and elsewhere, apart more than usual, and able to process a lot of things that I had not been able to before.

Over the course of our lives, and the smaller subset of our lives that we call careers, we start on many different paths and sometimes stay on them even when they are no longer necessary. We might do things in certain ways because of old plans, or old circumstances – abandoned, or gone. And while we are doing those things, we completely miss the things that might be hitting us over the heads in our desperate clawing toward a future that a younger version of ourselves once wanted, once needed…

The pressures of life, through our circumstance or even those we create for ourselves, have the capacity to overwhelm us and work against us.

A few days won’t do. Long weekends are meaningless. Over-scheduled insanity is just work in a different guise, that’s not a vacation.

Nature reclaims things.

We all need time and space for a real reflection, and if someone asked me what I regret in my life, it would be that I have been poor about giving myself that time.

Time where I could take my time and plan the picture above. Time to tie a string to a waterproof camera and just throw it in the ocean off a dock for an entire morning. Time to walk around and be surprised by what drops in your lap.

Time.