Saturday, December 27, 2008

Digital Nostalgia...

I read quite a few blogs.  I recently turned my mom on to the world of blogging. Sort of. She logged on and read my blog, and clicked through to Jorie's Blog, which she loved. Now, whether or not she can find them again remains to be seen, but as we have not yet done our tutorial on google reader, she gets a pass. I'll just send her a link. 

Today, when perusing one of my favorite creative blogs, I ran across a bit of software heaven. When one of the first things I noticed was that it had only recently released the PC version, having a mac-only following before that I knew it HAD to be great.  When I tried it out, I was blown away.  When my highly critical professional digital imaging photographer hubby declared it "incredible" I knew I had a treasure.

I remember my Mamaw's Polaroid camera. I can picture her holding that dinosaur of a camera in front of her face, making sure we were all in "birth order" and directing the whole grand group from behind the viewfinder until we all were moaning, "Maaamaaaaawwww...just take the picture!"  I remember the satisfying churning  sound as the old camera chugged out a murky image framed in crisp white that we kids would fight over who got to wave in the air to help it "develop" faster. The images were spotty, usually poorly exposed, and had an amazingly short lifespan.  But, they were precious. Valuable.  Worth more than a 4 gb card full of today's images, most of which will never make it to paper or be held in someone's hand.  They were one of a kind. They could not be ordered in bulk from Shutterfly for less than a dime each.  They couldn't be scanned and emailed. They were, in their own magical way, one-of-a-kind treasures, and now, they are icons of my childhood, almost forgotten.  Until today.

Some very clever, forward/backward thinking techie genius has developed a software that will take one of the thousands of digital images stored on your hard drive, memory card or thumb drive, and churn it out of a virtual Polaroid camera, right onto your desktop.  Complete with sound effects...and the murky brown color.  You can even virtually grab your print and wave it in the cyber-air of your desktop to help it develop faster, without even having to fight your cousins for the privilege. The resulting "Poladroid" is an almost artistic version of your digital pic, with spots, stripes, vignetting, and colors that are unpredictable at best.  This guy is a genius.  Check it out. Download the software.  Bring a little bit of nostalgia to the digital age.  I'll bet you won't be able to resist waving it in the virtual air...just a little bit.

A few tips that took me a while to figure out:
*the files aren't "developed" (and saved) until the red X appears on the bottom of the print.
*the final file is saved by default into the pictures folder of the logged in user. (mac)
*the files can be double clicked during the developing process and saved in all of their burnt sienna glory. 
Have fun! 

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas...?

from the land of plenty. Too much. The land of excess. 

You would think that this year, our first year as a married couple with one single income, the holiday would seem more stripped of its maniacal materialism, and closer to its core. You would think.

When I went to Target on Christmas Eve-Eve to finish the shopping, my husband accused me of "gilding the lily", which is his typical response to me when I am trying to be superwoman.  "I'm sure Santa has more than done his job. Really."  But, off I went to battle supercenters near midnight. 

I did get a few more things for the kids, and did spend a little more money. I thought that I was going to enjoy being by myself and get a little more into the Christmas spirit, but I just ended up tired, hungry, and even more cynical.  

I'm not sure if it is that I seem to have lost my place in the world or if I am just a bit down in the dumps, but I could not catch the Christmas mojo this year.  The most important things that define Christmas-y-ness to me went undone. Like my baking of 16 versions of cookies and candies or like my careful execution of the entire city of Bethlehem with my 200 piece nativity. Ever since my world turned on its ear, I have been feeling a little bit discombobulated, dissatisfied, and overwhelmed. You would think that suddenly being freed from 8 restricted hours a day, I would gain a tremendous sense of freedom and bundles of free time.  Don't stay-at-home-moms take naps? Bubble baths in the afternoon after Oprah?  Don't their houses smell intoxicatingly of Mr. Clean and Lemon Pledge every day?  Isn't the laundry always caught up and the supper on the stove when hardworking hubby comes through the door?  That's what I always thought.  

The truth of the matter is, my life is so far from that it's not even funny.  I was 100 times more organized and on top of things when my 9-5 career kept me structured. We ran like a well-oiled machine.  I was supermom.   I dreamed of the day when I could do what I thought I did best full a mommy, a wife, and a creative person.  Those were the things that I had to push into my limited free time when I was climbing the corporate ladder.  Now, I can't manage to match the socks in time for everyone to get dressed.  Add to that the burden of Christmas shopping, decorating, visiting and the like, I was a wreck.  And I'm not proud of it. 

I ironed the dampness out of the kids Christmas clothes because they weren't washed until an hour before church.  By the time we arrived, 15 minutes late to Christmas Eve services, Harrisen had Tootsie Roll smeared on his Little Lord Fonteleroy collar.  Daddy had ironed leftover tomato sauce into the ribbon on Evangeline's bonnet rather than taking a damp cloth and cleaning it.  So there were my angels, covered in food, 15 minutes late, and looking like a hot mess.  I broke down in the church parking lot, crying, saying, "Let's just go home. It's not worth it. I don't want to even go in."  To which my husband gave me that look that said, quite plainly, albeit with no words, "Riiiiight....because Christmas Eve services are about showing off your perfect kids, not about celebrating the birth of Christ."  Of course, he was right. 

So, I sucked it up and went into the sanctuary of his parent's church and was struck with the beauty and awe of the true meaning of the Holiday. The presence of the Spirit filled me and my eyes overflowed with tears. 

Just kidding. I wish.

Actually, I was so tied up in a knot, I could not shake free and let my heart open to the service. Between mopping at the children with a soapy paper towel hastily snatched from the bathroom and trying not to be resentful that I was missing mass at our beloved church to dutifully fulfill my Christmas Eve obligation to the in-laws, I barely managed to make it through without crying. I did cry, once. The one moment I let myself realize I was missing it. Missing it over stained white satin ribbons.  Shit.  This is probably why my atheist friends say church is a big sham.

Anyway, supermom's cape is at the cleaners, and she's trying to cope. I won't sugar coat it as my maternal family tree's upbringing would have me do.  I won't lie and sing, "This was the best Christmas EVER!"  Because it wasn't.  But it wasn't the worst, either.  And my sweet savior is still born, whether or not I chose to be emotionally present at His birth. That's the beauty of the story. He's born. He's born for us who are weak and flawed and imperfect.  And he loves me, whether or not the nativity is set up or the baking got done.  If I was perfect I wouldn't need him.  So, happy birthday, Baby. Thank you for coming to this crazy Earth for the people like me.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Dirty Little Secret.

We all have them. We keep them close, hidden away because of shame. Luckily, my dirty little secret has a door, so it's easy to keep it out of the light of day. Until I decide to come clean to the world on my blog, that is.

In our "old house", we had the typical issues with storage space. My closet was split between 3 rooms...the master bedroom, the nursery, and the guest room. It was a pain in the heiney.  It was all I could do to keep pairs of shoes in the same closet.  When we moved to the "new house" one of the selling points was the amazing walk in closet off of the small cozy bathroom that would, one day, hold my claw foot bathtub.  

Built in shoe racks. Shelving. Double french doors to let in natural light. Room for a small dresser and a chair.  It was like my own little hideaway. My escape. I had been delivered from the valley of turn-of-the-century closets. 

When we moved, I reveled in organizing baskets full of socks, scarves, belts and accessories. I lined up my shoes. I had brand new towels folded in stacks on the shelves, and fabric drawers fit for slippers and flip flops.  I even set up a small desk with my computer in the corner. It was going to be heaven to get dressed, check my email, sip a cup of tea...

Well, that didn't last long.  

This morning, I noticed there are still capri pants hanging on the spacious racks. White capri pants.  Pants that no self respecting southern woman would wear past Labor Day, much less, December!  Last night's towel from my bubble bath is balled up damp on the floor...a bubble bath not taken in the claw foot tub in the cozy little bathroom, mind you...but from the kids' bath, because our remodeling fund ran out before the claw foot tub came to fruition.  Clean laundry is in lopsided stacks on the floor. The power cord from my external hard drive seems to be mating with my hair dryer. My winter boots and mules made it down from the attic, but they are co-mingling with peep toe pumps and jeweled kitten-heeled sandals in bright tropical colors.  I think there is an unwrapped tampon that Evangeline tried to eat somewhere in the rubble. 

It's shameful. Simply shameful. There is no excuse for the chaos that is my closet. But, since I'm in a self-preserving mood, let me try to form one.

You see, when you are the CEO of a household that is composed of 4 people who dirty things and one person who cleans things, the person who cleans things gets to their own personal mess last.  Harrisen's shoes are lined up like soldiers. His clothes are folded in the proper drawers and his hanging items are grouped by type.  Even his toys that live in the closet are stowed in color-coordinated bins.  Evangeline's closet is pristine.  I spent way too much on her clothes to pile them on the floor. Besides, I have to set a good example, right?   

My house usually is pretty neat, and you would rarely freak me out by dropping in unexpectedly.  Just don't ask me for a tour of my closet, or try to help yourself to a sweater if you get chilly.  My closet door is closed for a reason.  I expect it will be open again in about 16 years.