28 July 2009

Seeing Synchronicity

It started with an insightful book I read recently about changing the way you think, thus changing the way you feel, thus changing how you experience life. Far out stuff, I know, but also very real. It’s called The Feeling Good Handbook, by David Burns, and I think just about anyone could benefit from reading it.

But you may be wondering, as I did, if it’s even possible (or natural) to change the way you think. Aren’t unpleasant emotions part of being human? Well, yes, but the trouble starts when those unpleasant emotions become unhealthy emotions, as Dr. Burns points out in his book. You can’t, and shouldn’t, be happy all of the time, but you can manage your emotions more than they manage you. I get that now, but when I was reading the book, the perfectionist in me was dissecting every “bad” emotion, determined to be Ms. Perfect.

Until synchronicity kicked in to save me. Netflix mailed me the next film in my queue, just like any other week, and I ensconced myself in PJs and pillows to watch it, just like always. But this film happened to be Equilibrium, which is a Matrix-Fahrenheit-1984 combo about a future society where emotions are forbidden and are quelled with drugs. In fact, feeling is a crime punishable by a one-way trip to The Incinerator. Rather a bleak picture, let me tell you. Then, later that same night I was surfing channels when I should have been sleeping, and I caught a televangelist yammering in drill-sergeant tones about how we need to control our emotions. Crikey. That scared me worse than the film, and it drove home a simple, synchronous point: Feelings good, androids bad.

Of course Dr. Burns knew this all along. His book even includes a surly snippet from a brilliant article, “In Praise of Depression,” which I’ll partially quote here:
“Considering the state of the world, why does science still consider depression an aberration? Don’t these people read the newspaper?... For some of us, optimism is seen for what it is: a form of escapism... a form of desperation that science would do well to investigate—were these researchers not too busy attaching electrodes to dogs and finding out that the impressionable hounds get depressed after the first few hundred volts...”

- David Ives, from “In Praise of Depression,” originally published in The New York Times, June 17, 1981

Are androids the next stage in human evolution? Will silicon chips reside in our brains and bodies? Will nanobots course through our veins, monitor our vitals, and fix us when needed? Will we live longer, better lives... or just longer lives? I’m the first to admit humans could stand a great deal of improvement, and I welcome the improvements bio- and nano-technology are bringing to our lives, but I just hope we’re careful about how we define “improve.”

21 July 2009

Sharing Poetry at Starbucks

In an effort to make new friends in my new town (and do New Things), I’ve joined three local groups on meetup.com. One of those groups, Quality Poets Society, met on Friday, and it was such a treat for me.

The two people I met were impressively creative and, most importantly, humble about being so talented. I love that! If you’ve been a writer for any length of time, you’ve met the opposite type who thinks they’re the best thing ever and can’t understand why the world doesn’t agree. If you’re that type, just stop it. Right now. If you love writing, keep doing it. If not, let it go and do something else.

At Friday’s meetup, we started by sharing poetry that had inspired us. I especially enjoyed hearing Charles Bukowski’s “splash,” read by Adam, from Betting on the Muse: Poems and Stories. After sharing, we did a couple of great creative writing exercises that resulted, for me, in the poems below. For the first exercise, a circle poem, we started and ended with the same line, but gave the line a different meaning at the end. For the second, we each called out two random words, then wrote a poem/fragment using all of the words. Now, I didn’t use all six words, but I did spin those six words into “ten thousand things”...

what we want

what we want
what we have
what we are
are we
what we want?

ten thousand things

black coffee
on an outdoor wood table
warms the morning around me
heats my body
heals my soul
encircles me in wisps
as I drink
sunbursts dancing on the cup
moving on the murmuring surface
telling me of ten thousand things
of now
of secrets shown to all
though few can see

© 2009 Vanessa Campbell

14 July 2009

Scoring Some Deals

I don’t do much shopping these days, except for necessities like groceries and Swiffer Duster refills, but I did manage to score a few sweet deals this week. At the Old Navy store in Augusta, I found cami tops on sale for $5 and v-neck tees for $10 (shown here). They didn’t have all of the colors shown online, but still, good deals. Then, I found a 4GB SanDisk flash drive at Walmart for $12. I almost said “Reeeally?!” out loud.

Alas, my scoring streak didn’t last. I went to five stores downtown looking for artsy cards, postcards, and/or stationery for my new pen-pal, Lisabel, and I found absolutely nothing. Nothing artsy, at least. But I remembered reading a suggestion in Skirt! to turn that publication’s colorful pages into envelopes. Brilliant idea, and it got me thinking about all sorts of fun things that could be scavenged to create envelopes with... as well as cards, postcards, and stationery, for that matter.

My mockup envelope looked surprisingly artsy and fresh, but I still want to reverse-engineer a real envelope to be sure I’m doing it right; i.e., so Lisabel’s letters will actually reach her. I’m all set with my 18” ruler, my trimmer tools, my super-strong glue stick, my plain white address labels, and my eco-friendly writing pads. The eco-paper, which is made from 80% sugarcane waste, is a lovely cream color with light brown lines. Since it’s too pretty to laser-print designs on, I plan to decorate it randomly with teeny-tiny collages and/or paper-friendly inks or paints.

I had to buy everything listed above except the trimmer tools, but thanks to Staples, my total cost was only about $10. Which means I scored another deal after all.

07 July 2009

First Friday and Fourth Fireworks

Since this was my first Independence Day weekend in Augusta, I got to experience several New Things. The fun started with First Friday, during which I especially enjoyed Dwain Shaw’s nature photography exhibit as well as Pyroteque’s scorching street performance. Dwain’s exhibit was at the Metro Spirit gallery, and Dwain was there as well. We talked a bit about camera brands and film versus digital, but not about photography as art, since I already agree with him on that. Pyroteque’s performance involved various things being set on fire and swung about, including a hula hoop! The stunts, music, make-up, and outfits reminded me of both Criss Angel and the circus, in the best way.

On Saturday, Augustans were treated to even more fun, all day, followed by a nighttime fireworks show off the Fifth Street Bridge. I took some photos of the latter, but my cam’s shutter speed was way too slow (i.e., blurry as hell). *sigh* So, yeah, that’s why the Imperial Theatre and Cotton Exchange photos are here instead. But trust me, it was pretty—especially the waterfall effect of white lights cascading into the Savannah River. Which reminds me, the best fireworks show I’ve ever seen is Boomsday, which is held each Labor Day in Knoxville, TN. If you live anywhere near there, it’s worth a road trip to see.