29 October 2009

One New Poem: A Dream I Had in ’93

I’m at the beach
I’m happy
It’s a perfect, sunny day
But I’m afraid of the surf

I see a dog
She’s happy too
On this perfect, sunny day
And not afraid of the surf

She runs and jumps
Into a crashing wave
Grinning as only dogs can grin
I could swear she was giggling too

So I decide to run in as well
Into a crashing wave
Into a freer place
Into joy

It cascades over me
Says hello and goodbye in the same breath
And goes
But not entirely
Because we both know
Things have been taken
Things changed
Things given

Skin sparkling and sun in my eyes
I walk back to the grinning dog on the beach
And look at my hands
And see they’ve been filled

With silvery coins
With sun-honey doubloons
With dark, sea-blue sapphires
And a promise unspoken

That a life, lived fearless and free
Is a treasure

© 2009 Vanessa Campbell

27 October 2009

Looking Forward, Looking Back

I generally tend to look forward more so than looking back, but I did both on Saturday. In the afternoon, I attended a local 350 Climate Action event, which was part of a much larger effort: “On 24 October, people in 181 countries came together for the most widespread day of environmental action in the planet's history. At over 5,200 events around the world, people gathered to call for strong action and bold leadership on the climate crisis.”

Augusta’s event featured live music and an edible architecture exhibit, along with a handful of groups and vendors. While the term “edible architecture” sometimes refers to cakes in the shapes of buildings (yum!) or mini biscuit cities (um...), this time it referred to community gardens that can supply food for surrounding areas, along with providing myriad other benefits. Which leads me to wonder, are we humans going back to being more community centered?

Speaking of going back, the crisp night air brought out the Spirits of Hallowed Eve at North Augusta’s Living History Park. The park, in keeping with both the season and the pre-electricity times, had an ambiance of reverent quiet and pervasive darkness punctuated by a few children’s frightened giggles and even fewer torches. In fact, it was so dark I could barely see the sequined flip-flops on my feet, let alone the ground. It was disorienting, yet exciting, yet not so exciting due to the $500 camera in my hands. I was prepared to perform a midair turn stunt in the event of a fall, to protect the camera, but I ended up merely stumbling around like everyone else.

20 October 2009

Out and About in Augusta

After several days of rain, Monday brought sunshine and a reason to get out and about. I started at the Augusta State University campus, ostensibly to see their New Space Gallery, but really to photograph the campus itself. Then I drove downtown to the historic Magnolia Cemetery to photograph there as well. (Click here to see my photos.) I was on a roll until my camera’s low battery indicator started flashing.

But that was fine because, like my cam’s batteries, I was getting hungry. On my way home, I stopped at the library and went straight to two books I didn’t know I needed to read until I saw them. I also found a couple of DVDs I had been wanting to watch, and suddenly, having to put my Netflix account on hold wasn’t so bad.

Now that I’m home with my loot, my borrowed books are proving to be treasures. One is called Emotional Vampires: Dealing With People Who Drain You Dry, by Albert Bernstein. It’s very insightful, and I’m amazed at Bernstein’s ability to explain the complexities of the human psyche in plain English. Also, rather than contemplate the causes of personality disorders, he focuses on the here, the now, and arming yourself (with knowledge) against emotional vampires. One suggestion in particular I like is that when people act like two-year-olds, you can treat them as such, often with a successful outcome. It seems so obvious now: To manage immature adults, use child psychology.

But the most important strategy, if I’m understanding the book correctly, is to be able to manage yourself no matter what type of person or situation you’re faced with—to be able to think on your feet. Who’d have thought a Monday afternoon would lead to such enlightenment?

14 October 2009

Two New Interviews

I had planned to check out the Falling for Fashion event at Sky City on Saturday, but I decided to skip it because, along with fashion, fall also means flu season. From what I’m hearing, H1N1 is no picnic, and I don’t like flu vaccinations, so my anti-flu strategy is mainly to avoid crowds and to avoid touching my face. (Just FYI, it’s wise to avoid touching your face in general, since the eyes, nose, and mouth are primo germ portals.)

Although I spent most of the weekend at home, doing comfy, cozy, homey things, my week was not without New Things. I had two interviews for jobs in cities I had never visited, so I researched not only the companies, but also the locations. I wanted to be prepared for the interviews and to be sure Morristown, NJ and Charlotte, NC are places I could relocate to. I'm happy to say they both seem like great cities.

The Morristown interview was done via telephone, while the Charlotte interview was done in person, on Tuesday. On my way home from Charlotte, I stopped in Rock Hill, SC, and had a picnic dinner in Glencairn Garden, which I absolutely loved to bits. Some serious feng shui is going on there... or serious landscaping, at least, and the town’s Main Street is adorable as well.

Now that the interviews are done, I wonder if I'll see Rock Hill again, or if I'll be exploring New York City instead (Morristown is a suburb of NYC). Maybe I'll end up somewhere else entirely. I don't know, but I'm convinced there are lots of Rock Hills and Glencairns out there, if you know where to look.

06 October 2009

Painting in a Pub, by Candlelight, with Whiskey

When I first heard about the Whiskey Paintings and how they were “done with whiskey,” I was expecting abstract pieces in various shades of amber, with spatter patterns and fraught titles. But the paintings are actually small watercolors, maybe 4” x 5”, with whiskey (or the artist’s drink of choice) replacing only the water—not the pigment.

Augusta is one of few cities where the paintings are exhibited for sale, and it happens only once a year here, at the Zimmerman Gallery. I visited the gallery on Saturday as both art lover and investigative reporter, and the staff was so kind in answering my questions. It was such a treat to hear the history behind the paintings while seeing them for the first time.

With origins dating back to the 1950s, the Whiskey Painters of America is an exclusive club allowing no more than 150 artists at any given time. In 1962, when the club officially formed, “the rules to qualify were that a candidate had to be invited to do a painting after 10 p.m. in a bar by candlelight, using whiskey as his medium,” according to the Zimmerman Gallery website.

Seeing the charming collection made me want to light a scented candle, play some atmospheric music, pour some sake, and paint something teeny-tiny at 1 a.m. However, there hasn’t been sake in the house since March, and the only water-paints I could find were of the $1.99 variety—for the whole set. Hmm, I wonder how those paints would look with masala chai or peppermint tea.