Monday, December 24, 2012

a life full of changes… christmas 2012

Christmas Tree.  Fair Oaks, California.  December 24, 2012.

My brain is all over the place this morning.  It is Christmas Eve and that kind of sucks this year.  I am very far from my children and will miss spending the day with them tomorrow.  Sure, I am down in California taking care of my mother, but I miss them.  We’d hoped to make it up there for Christmas but that just didn’t work this year.

We should be out of here in a couple weeks.  Time to get to work, time to get this show on the road.  A lot of hard work has been done, a lot of hard work remains to be done, and then, once we get mom moved out of here, we have another move to organize up north.  Moving from our too small apartment to a location as yet to be determined.

There is a lot of work ahead.

I’ve been a little in denial about Christmas.  Last night mom suggested setting up the small tree, and my first reaction was that I did not want to do that.  But I thought about it for a few and decided that it wouldn’t hurt.  It is not a very festive holiday down here, considering everything going on, but I think it did help, setting up the little tree. 

Obviously, this is not the holiday we’d hoped for this year.  Instead of having everyone together down here, which was the original plan a couple months ago, we are separated.  And we’ve lost someone.  It is not a happy holiday this year.  I am in the house I wanted to be in this year, but without the people I wanted to spend Christmas with.  Of course, mom is here, but I am sure she feels quite the same as I, and much worse considering her loss.

Turned 40 a few days ago, the day before the world was supposed to end.  Funny how things work.  Not a huge deal, I think I had my freak out last year when I turned 39.  That was the year I went through the “OhmahGodIamALMOSTFORTYandIhavedoneNOTHINGwithmyLIFE!” fit. 

I am pretty grateful about where I am in life, this year.  I have the time and opportunity to take care of my family through some difficult times, and I can see light on the horizon, I can start to sense where, when, and how all of this work over the last couple years will pay off. 

But I can still get a little bitter from time to time. 

Earlier this morning I was reading about a 20 year old photographer on flikr who started a Photo of the Day project a little over three hundred days ago and has turned it into his full time career in under a year.  Brat.  Then I remembered, 20 year olds have a lot more time to work on Art than 40 year olds with a family in seemingly perpetual crisis.  He probably also has a “real” camera.

His life is also scaled a little differently than mine.  He was able to walk away from his day job delivering pizzas.  If I do not return to my old career when this phase of my life is over, I will be walking away from quite a bit more than pizza delivery…

I have to also remember that photography has not been my career goal the last couple years.  I may have been able to find such small success if I had been able to invest more time and effort into the art, but the main thing photography has done the last couple years for me is to keep my sanity intact through everything. 

Pictures are small, bite sized things that did not distract me from my family (too much); small projects masqueraded for the most part as hikes for sanity and exercise, outings and vacations with the boys, etc.  And, unlike writing, I can edit photos and videos surrounded by family chaos and not need to be alone, isolated in my room away from everyone and everything.

Yes, I would like to start making some money from those efforts, but that is still in the future for me.  I do see myself hanging that shingle out in 2013, though.  I was looking at a photographer’s website earlier today who specializes in family portraits and started thinking, yes, I could do that. 

But I need to get a “real” camera first.  Realistically, it doesn’t make much difference as far as the photos go, but it is everything when it comes to “Professional Appearance.”  If I show up at someone’s home with my little Powershot and want to charge them hundreds of dollars…   Well, it’s really about the time, talent, and 30 years of experience, not about the camera, but most people don’t understand that.

So, while dealing with the moving and the everything, I need to be looking to get a better camera running, and I need a little time to really consider what my photography goals for 2013 are before I make any decisions there. 

To be honest, the camera I want is not a professional looking DSLR, and it would be, perhaps, even better than a DSLR for what I use my camera for most, at this point.  However, if I really want to start generating some income, I may have to upgrade to a DSLR.

Of course, I could always go with a sneaky little Plan B that has lurked in the back of my mind for years.  Just get a new lens for my old but awesome Minolta film SLR and use it as a stunt camera, an accessory worn around my neck, and then just use my little digitals to actually shoot.  Or I could even go back to film.  Or…

Or I could take the time to actually put a plan together and implement it.

This is where I am really feeling it this year.  Time.  I have too little.  I need more.  All I really want for Christmas is 36 hours in each day.

I need time to sit down and put a business plan together.  I need time to sit down and figure out what I want to be when I grow up and the family’s perpetual crisis is finally as resolved as it will ever be (hopefully a few months after all the moving is done). 

But these are enigmatic things, I also need time to edit my One Day On Earth videos, I need time to select some photos for some contests with end of the year deadlines (and not get distracted by editing everything in the batch looking for hidden treasures)…  I need time to finish my novel, to revise it, to plug into the Portland writing community so I can workshop it… 

I need time to pursue all of these things, which, when put together, should add up to something that looks pretty damn close to a self supporting career.

Bite sized chunks.  Right now, I’ve got my priorities.  Work on the contest photos (in a more focused manner than yesterday), work on the videos… I have less than a week for the former and 19 days to get my videos uploaded. 

Then, when those things are done, I can return to the novel and get the first draft completed.  Until then, all the writing goals are pretty much beyond my reach.

Even those tasks are secondary, though.  What I really need the time, focus and energy for right now is with shepherding my family through two moves in two months.

When mom and I finally get out of here, and when we get settled into a house up in Oregon, then I may have time to really settle down and to take a look at 2013 goals.  Until then, well, there are time critical tasks that just need to be knocked down.

But it feels chaotic, and I hate that.  It is bugging me.  And it is Christmas and my family is broken this year and that is dragging me down a bit, making the chaos feel even more obnoxious, distracting and confusing.  Overwhelming. 

And I am really feeling like all the time I have spent writing, filming, and editing the last couple months is wasted time.  Time spent on hobbies, not on “real” things, distracting me from the very real job I have of getting my mother and children into a healthy, stable environment as quickly as possible.

Of course, these artistic projects are not “hobbies” but part of the foundation I am trying to lay to build the rest of my life on, to build a real career on once my family’s immediate demands on my time are lessened and I can actually pursue a career once again.  So they are important tasks.  But they do not come with immediate rewards.

These are not easy weeks in our lives. 

The end of 2012 was supposed to be a couple month long celebration of my family’s success the last couple years.  I finally thought I would have the ability to take on larger projects- National Novel Writing Month and more complex videos for One Day On Earth.  Then we’d all come down to mom’s for a really great Christmas with her and Mario. 

2013 was supposed to start with a first draft completed, some well shot videos being finished up, the boys settled into school and doing well, and myself being in a place where I was really starting to work on the next stage of my life.

Instead, everything got a lot more complicated and darker on November 8, when my stepfather Mario unexpectedly passed away.  The end of this year and the start of next year took a huge turn in a strange direction.

While still a period of transition, the changes are much more dramatic and the work is a lot harder than anything I’d been planning on. 

Even the family pieces, the boys’ stability, school performance, etc… has been rocked by these events.

The Big One was pulling straight As and Bs the first term, this term he is heading into break with Cs and Ds.  The next step, in early November, for The Little One was to be starting on getting him caught up academically, and truly determining what his best school placement will be at this stage in his life, which is going to still be the next step in January, when we get back up north, and will be a huge project to start while house hunting and moving out from out apartment. 

So, that probably puts everything else I had planned for early 2013 on hold until the Spring, at least.  Which is frustrating and discouraging.

But, and this is a huge but…  These things are all good things for the family in the long run. 

When we are set up in a house, when we are all settled in, the family should be in the most stable place it has been in for quite some time.  We will come out of this transition period much stronger than we’ve ever been.  It will be very good.

It has just turned out to be a harder, more complicated process getting through from here to there than I’d expected.  And more painful.  We’ve had a devastating loss.   Because of that, it is difficult, in the moment, to see how this is all going to be good in the long run.

So tomorrow it is Christmas, whatever that will be for mom and I this year.  Watch the kids open presents on Skype.  Eat dinner later with some relatives.  Miss my children.  Miss Mario.

Forgive me if my enthusiasm and optimism has been waning a bit the last week or so.  It will be back, but this is a hard time in our lives right now.

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