Saturday, October 6, 2012

Jack's Tour of Oneonta Gorge

September 8, 2012. Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Oregon.

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A simple time in my life..

Big Obsidian Flow.  Newberry National Volcanic Monument, Oregon.  August 19, 2012.

Semi-quiet Saturday afternoon.  My one day a week to sleep in, and I took it, paying the price of feeling behind all day for the luxury of a really good night’s sleep.  There are never quite enough hours in the day…

It’s been a long time since I posted any words on this site.  Probably a good thing, it means life has been quiet and good.  Boring.  And boring is good.

While we are still settling into the new structures of the new school year, life has taken on a distinct pattern.  Get up, feed the kids, make sure they are getting ready, drive the little one to school, work on some personal, “workish” stuff for a few hours, work on boy issues or life issues for an hour or so, pick up the little one, supervise a dog walk when the big one gets home and review his homework for the day, cook dinner, hang with the family for a little bit, go to bed and read or work on some notes and outlines for the new novel for a bit, get some sleep… 

Not every day goes like that, but most do.  Right now, while the boys are in school I am focusing on editing the many, many photos from the last couple months and writing some short posts for Rubble. Once a week or so, I am trying to get out for a decent walk or short hike, especially since the weather is so nice, though I hope to continue this pattern even when the rainy season finally arrives.

Next month, I’ll be switching out the photography with even more writing.  I am going to take a swing at NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, or something like that).  I’ve been wanting to try this for a couple years now, but this year I actually have an idea.  Not the novel I’ve been researching and developing for the last ten (or twenty plus) years, but a new story set in the same universe.  A smaller story.  Perfect for a 50,000 word project pounded out in a month.

That is a rather intimidating project to be looking forward to, but I am excited about it too.  And this is a perfect time in my life to do something like that.


Last year, too many days were filled with the boys issues.  Just taking care of them and managing their needs was a full time plus job.  This summer was even busier, with all the home schooling we did.

But it looks like that work paid off well.  The big one is thriving this year.  He still needs some extra supervision and guidance when it comes to school, but he is doing very well.  Far exceeding my expectations, in fact.  It’s paying off in his grades, too.  His lowest grade is 88% right now, with about three or four weeks left in the first term.

The little one’s situation is a little more complicated.  He is doing very well, but he has outgrown the program he is in, and it may take quite a bit of time and effort to place him into a new program that is a better fit for him right now.  It is a complicated issue.  His behavior problems are pretty well resolved and he is able to function in school again, but he is so far behind that just placing him back into a 4th grade class room full time is not really an option.

If we do that, he’ll be so lost and frustrated that the behavior problems would probably re-emerge, and quickly.  Dealing with frustrating situations is still a struggle for him, and while he can handle normal day to day stuff well, plunging him into a situation where he is dealing with high levels of frustration all day, every day, well…  It would be a terrible situation for anyone, and a recipe for disaster for him.

Next week we are having his first placement meeting for his new, Autism Spectrum IEP, and we will start addressing these issues in detail.  Hopefully we can find a solution with the school district, but if not, we may be needing to home school him for a year or two until he is really caught up enough academically to succeed at grade level in a classroom environment.

We’ll try what ever solution we work out with the district for a while, but if it is not working, we need to stop before any real damage is done and try something new.  So there is quite a bit of work on the horizon ahead when it comes to the little one’s issues.


Once all the issues with the boys are resolved and both boys are settled in and thriving in their school environments, then it will be time to take a look at my life and to try to put together the next phase for myself, career wise, etc. Until then, though, I am happy to have a few hours here and there to work on some portfolio projects and to lay some foundations for when that time arrives.

Earlier today I was reading a blog post from an old friend of mine who’s life is following a similar pattern right now.  Getting by with just enough to work on some “bigger picture” projects…  Like me, she is making a lot of sacrifices so she can move ahead in life.  For me, these sacrifices are being made for my children while, for her, they are being made for her career, but in the end, the daily patterns are surprisingly similar.

Today’s post was actually inspired by what I wrote in the comments to her blog post…

Sounds about like my life right now, except substitute photography for writing and managing the boys' special needs, treatment, and education for the editing...

However, it is also a relatively drama free life for me right now, so that is nice.

Next month, though, I plan on switching it up and replacing the photography with writing. Had a bit of an idea about six months ago and NaNoWriMo looks like a good excuse to pound out a rough draft, though it is also very intimidating...

Going through a similar phase of life, I find that focusing on why I've made the choices that have led me here and what I hope to gain from these choices help keep the "wouldn't it be nice if..." demons at bay, though they still sneak in from time to time.

But life is simple, and that is nice for right now. I have everything I need, if not everything I'd like to have, and that is a blessing, too.

Life won't be like this forever, and sometimes I wish it would hurry up and get to the next "phase," whatever that might be, but then I also have to stop and remember that there will be a lot I miss about my life right now when the next phase does arrive.

Just some thoughts that get me through when I start feeling restless.

For me, from time to time, the demons that get me, generally, orbit around the lack of gear and equipment I need to really, legitimately be pursuing a career involving photography…

If I had a better camera, better software, better computer, more money to get out and about to take photos of more interesting places, more money to put together prints and portfolios and websites so I can sell some stuff and, maybe, the material for prints so I can put a show together some place…

More time is the second demon.  It takes a long time to get much done when over half my time is spent taking care of the family, but they are the reason why I have time to do anything at all now, so go figure… 

However, after NaNoWriMo and after we get the next round of school district meetings and placements done with the little one, I do need to sit down and take some time, to make some time, if needed (late night coffee pots), and to really start working on the next phase…

First, figuring out what is next.  Then working towards it.  On the “workish” front, that means probably trying some crowdfunding for some sort of photography or photojournalism project.  On the real work front, that means trying to figure out what comes next for real employment, regular paycheck type of work.

Of course, if I end up home schooling, then there will be little time for any of it.  But that is all in the future, and for the next month or two, I am just doing what I can with the time and money I have to work with now.

I suppose the biggest demon for me right now is the feeling that I am reaching the limit of what I can do with the resources I have right now.  The next steps, in the overall life goals department, will require some money.  And for that, I need a job, which will greatly limit the time I have to work on those goals, which means that, literally, it may be years before I can take my photography work to the next level and start pursuing the professional career goals I have (more in the journalism area, less in the technical writing area)…

So that leads to feelings of stagnation and sucks my motivation.  Yes, I can run around and take some half way decent pictures of this and that and write some little blog posts about here and there and entertain a handful of friends.  But is the time I put into all of that really worth it?  It it really any different than if I was just sitting around and playing video games all day between obligations involving the boys?

It is different, though.  But it can be tough to stick with everything when the rewards feel so small right now.

This is why I am really looking forward to NaNoWriMo.  Writing is something I need no additional gear for.  I have everything I need.  And regardless if I produce a publishable manuscript or not (obviously, additional drafts will be required after November’s), this is movement towards another career goal that I don’t need thousands of dollars to pursue.

Unfortunately, as I posted on Facebook the other day, writing fiction, even if I sell my book, isn’t a lucrative career for 99% of authors, not even one that pays a living wage.  Other irons need to be in the fire along with the writing, other paychecks will need to be coming in.  And all of that takes time…

But, at least, adding some creative writing into the mix should help break me out of the spiritual doldrums I fear are settling in.  It should get me fired up again and help me to loose the feeling that is settling in, that I am beating my skull against a wall that is much harder than my head.

And I need to breathe, relax, and remember, I chose to be in this place in my life right now and the rewards come not from success or failure in any career I am halfheatedly pursuing during my few hours of free time here and there, it comes from seeing my children healing and succeeding in their lives.

These rewards, right now, are immeasurable and amazing.

And, bottom line, as I wrote to my friend, life won't be like this forever, and sometimes I wish it would hurry up and get to the next "phase," whatever that might be, but then I also have to stop and remember that there will be a lot I miss about my life right now when the next phase does arrive.

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Friday, October 5, 2012

The Little One Turns Ten

Jason's 10th.   Jamison Square.  Portland, Oregon.  October 4, 2012.Jason's 10th.   Jamison Square.  Portland, Oregon.  October 4, 2012.Jason's 10th.   Jamison Square.  Portland, Oregon.  October 4, 2012.Jason's 10th.   Piazza Italia.  Portland, Oregon.  October 4, 2012.
Jason's 10th.   Jamison Square.  Portland, Oregon.  October 4, 2012.Jason's 10th.   Piazza Italia.  Portland, Oregon.  October 4, 2012.Cupcake Party at School.  Jason's 10th.  October 4, 2012.Jason's 10th.   Jamison Square.  Portland, Oregon.  October 4, 2012.Jason's 10th.   Jamison Square.  Portland, Oregon.  October 4, 2012.

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Last Chance Garage

I kind of lost touch with Rick over the last year as my life got busy, but it looks like his life has been pretty full too. Check out this awesome video! I love to see friends doing awesome things!

Last Chance Garage updates « Alex Cassun Production Blog:

We’ve had a few nice little things happen with Last Chance Garage over the last two days. Yesterday I learned that the doc has moved into the next round of competition at the G-Tech “Driving Creativity” competition, and this morning I’d received an email saying we’ve been shortlisted for the ArcLight Cinemas Documentary Festival in Hollywood! (This is particularly exciting because ArtLight is my favorite movie theater in the world — and will be even more so now…)

If you have 5 minutes to spare, please click the link…


and give us a watch and a vote, and, if you don’t mind, spread the word so that your friends will do the same. We’re very proud of LCG and we want to get it seen by as many people as we can.


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