It rained today, among other things.
So, six months ago this week, I started cataloging my life through photos. This project is inspired by Ali Edwards’ site, from a prompt she called “A Week in the Life.” Then, three months ago this week, I decided to make this seasonal. Today, I checked my notes and realized that I needed to start cataloging today.
Due to my NaPoWriMo responsibilities, I will be posting less photos than normal. But I hope to at least show what my life looks like this early spring.
The above photo was taken on my evening walk with my husband, as we talked about our day. I love the way you can see the leaves starting to come in around the edges.
Today was a glorious day. Post surgery, my life has been limited to my condo, my office, and a few brief trips to the movie theater or a local store or restaurant. With the amount of ice and snow outdoors, I’ve been afraid of slipping on my crutches and falling. In other words, my world has diminished in size, considerably.
Today, my lovely husband offered to push me in a wheelchair around the Mall of America. I would never have been able to crutch around the full mall, since it is ginormous. He knew I needed to get out and for five little dollars and a lot of muscle power on his part, we had an adventure.
In my regular non-surgery life, I love the mall. I know malls may seem anathema to poetry, but I find them to be inspiring. There are wonderful people-watching opportunities at malls, from families with children to young couples and tourists. Malls are paragons to our most base desires – intimacy, food,entertainment, status. They are superficially slick and deeply dysfunctional. To me, they represent everything that is beautiful and awful about our country.
It was by far my most photogenic day and not just because of the change of scenery. By touring the mall in a wheelchair, I got a whole new perspective. I had a better vantage from which to observe people and the people were nicer to me than normal. The products were closer. The glittering store fronts whizzed past me, since my husband decided that the wheelchair gave us the option to mow down other shoppers.
The pictures, from top to bottom, display a Minnesota-themed jewelry shop, the incredibly creepy Build-a-Bear store, a self-portrait, a caramel corn display, a Fluffie (TM) Throw display, and a sculpture display. The last four were all taken at my husband’s favorite store, Marshalls. The sculpture display was taken by my husband, since they were hung far above my head. I never would have seen them and it is my favorite picture of the day.
Now that I’m at the end of my Week in the Life, I am so glad that I turned this into a seasonal project. Even with the ups and downs of my schedule, it felt good and right to mark time through taking pictures. Especially on a busy week like this, I’ve needed the space to reflect and write, even if it’s just to write about the minutiae of my day.
I can’t wait to see what my spring looks like.
On Saturday morning, I was recovering from another bout of pain-induced insomnia*. I had slept for about two and a half hours the night before and I was near tears. It was the end of a very long and difficult week and I was at the end of my rope. My boss noticed my state and immediately told me to turn off the lights, lay down on the floor and get some rest. After finishing up my work (because I’m a masochist), I took her advice. I took this shot of my office ceiling while laying on my back, my leg propped awkwardly on my desk chair. It is the only picture I took on Saturday.
For the rest of the day, I barely had time for pictures. There was more trainings for my new staff person, more greeting students, a student government meeting, and my very first class in my positive psychology course. Even though my experience in the first class was excellent, it was again not very photogenic. I struggled to focus throughout the class, since it’s very painful to keep my leg in one position for extended amounts of time.
Despite this, I enjoyed spending 4 hours discussing pleasure and happiness with my professor and fellow students. As one of my classmates remarked, I think this was the longest I’ve ever spent discussing happiness with other people. I think that’s something that needs to change, not just in myself, but in all of our daily lives. One of the other students said in class that we don’t wake up every day saying to ourselves, Alright, I’m going to pursue happiness today. We have our to do lists and our hopes and dreams, but they don’t often include pursuing happiness.
What would change if we decided each day to pursue happiness? How different might our lives become?
* Insomnia Update: On Saturday night, we rented movies and got a pizza. As soon as the movie was playing, I was passed out on the couch. In fact, I slept before the pizza arrived, got up to eat, then slept through the rest of the movie. Then, I went to bed at 8 PM and (with some interruptions) slept until 8 AM. In other words, it’s getting better.
During the first week of school, I barely have time to eat lunch and go the restroom on a regular timetable. Adding photography to the mix (and then blogging about that photography) has been a challenge, to say the least. I was doing fine until Friday, when classes officially started for the majority of our students. For the most of the day on Friday, I was assisting students, training our new administrative assistant, and answering panicky emails. I also got to sub for a literature instructor who was ill and teach 1 hour of African-American literature. (Oh, how I miss teaching sometimes.)
None of these things are photogenic. What was photogenic was the beginning of my day, when I was able to snap a few pictures in the coffee shop across from my office. A colleague was running late to the meeting, so I took the opportunity to photograph the salt and pepper shakers, as well as my crutches leaning against the wall. I’ve been trying to get good crutch pictures all week, since they are the mainstay of my life, and this is the first one that I feel is decent.
Today was a much better day than yesterday. Today, I was on the other side of my insomnia. I slept for several hours – in a row, even – and my work day was much better for it. It’s a lucky thing too, since I had another one of those long-ish days where I forget to eat lunch until almost 3:00 PM. But it was a good day.
When I woke up this morning, our streets were covered in fresh snow.The first shot captures the fresh snow outside of my window at work. I couldn’t get a very good snow picture on my camera phone, which is too bad, since it’s quite lovely. Even though snow (and ice and moisture) is the bane of my existence as a crutch-user, I love the way it looks when it’s fresh and falling.
The second shot is the stack of books I distributed to new students tonight. I work with adult undergraduate students and tonight was the first night of a brand new program. While they are mature working adults, they still had the new student look – nervous, jittery, and excited. I love the first day of school.
After I distributed books and welcomed new students, my husband drove me home. Due to the snowy roads, we took surface streets through downtown Minneapolis and bypassed our typical highway exit. I remembered in the car that I hadn’t taken too many good pictures and quickly snapped the shot as the car weaved through traffic. Of course, it turned into my favorite shot of the day.
Today was a difficult day to capture in pictures. It was also just a difficult day. I spent all of last night awake, when I should have been sleeping. After tossing and turning for a few hours in bed, I surrendered and occupied myself while the rest of the house slept. Every so often, I tried to go back to sleep, failed, and took on another activity.
At work, I was in that watery haze that follows a night of no sleep. I was tender and tired, but I powered through my shift and left early. (I was lucky that my schedule and boss allowed this flexibility.) Then, I immediately took a two-hour nap. I also didn’t take any pictures until after I woke up at 5:00 PM.
I could have taken pictures of the peppermint bark and espresso bark I ate with lunch. I could have taken pictures of the furry fluorescent pink bathrobe that I’ve spent the evening wearing. I could have taken pictures of the 60 feet of bare cement that I traversed on my crutches successfully — my longest outdoor excursion since surgery. I could have taken pictures of my husband picking me up from work, the most welcome site of my afternoon. But I didn’t do any of that, because I was just too foggy and tired.
Instead, I offer the two really good things from my day that I could capture in pictures: the sourdough toast drizzled with olive oil that I ate with dinner and Weetzie, my cat, napping on my husband’s chair. And now, I’m off to fall asleep (hopefully) again.
Today was my first real day back at work. After two weeks puttering around the house, this was a big shift for me. My time was no longer mine, to spend and while away as I pleased. Instead, even with a long work day, I felt like I barely had enough time to finish the necessary tasks. Between the busy-ness of the day and my reliance of crutches, I found myself more desk bound than I’ve become accustomed to in recent weeks. I did everything – work and breaks – at my desk. As you can see above, my breaks included a breakfast bagel and a lunch with mandarin oranges.
D0n’t get me wrong – I like this pace and I choose it in most of my jobs. I’m not the type of girl who can punch in and punch out at the appointed times. I just think that it will take some adjusting to remember what it’s like to eat breakfast and lunch at my desk.