Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Of Buck Rogers and roller skating

Buck Rogers is such a funny show. A while ago I revisited this series and really enjoyed it from a new and mature perspective. I guess after the success of Star Trek and Star Wars, the creative sci-fi well had a bit of a dry spell; it seemed that a lot of the costume and set design on Buck Rogers was very disco-era. There are a lot of passive (and blatant) sexual undertones on this show and I can’t say there’s a whole lot of visible diversity in the future, unless you consider the Draconians diverse (and they are basically white humans claiming to be from a different planet). 

Ha. I sooo want this shirt. 
In the first super long episode, the Draconian diplomats are visiting the humans in a formal ceremony. Somewhere along the line, the entertainment coordinator felt that they party needed a fancy disco-skating centerpiece. Shit’s getting crazy! 

The theme song is incredibly awesome and you can’t tell me that after listening to it you can’t help but sing it all day.

I used to love Buck Rogers when I was a wee lad. I think I was the tender age of 6 when Buck Rogers aired, and still high off of seeing “Star Wars” on the big screen I started to gobble up every science fiction show I could. I used to think Buck Rogers was so incredibly high-tech and futuristic. I took that show really seriously when I was a kid and somehow was just oblivious to the objectification of women. 

...Slave girls you say?
I found a great article over at Topless Robot titled 11 Things We Can Expect In The Future According To Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. They pretty much nailed it with regard to the ridiculous recurring themes and other funny occurrences throughout the series. 

Roller-skating is a really fun and funny past time. We have a place over here called Oaks Park that we go to frequently. My brother and his girl have been going regularly and are learning how to competitively couple skate. 

I go and just try to not fall. I am a pretty good skater however I get into trouble when I start to show off or attempt tricks.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

dressing room panic attack

I needed a dress for an upcoming event and found 2 wonderful dresses up the street at a nearby vintage store. This vintage store is so large, after an hour of going through it we had only covered about a third of the store. I had more selection then I could have ever planned on!

This store has an interesting business model; the store is the size of a large grocery store and is partitioned off into several small vignettes. Each partitioned area belongs to a differed vendor, so each area is an organized jumble of household items, decor and clothing.

I had found one or two things in each of the 10 or 12 spaces I visited, and after about an hour I had an armload of dresses to try on. I also was starting to feel shopping burn-out and sure one of those had to be *the* one for the event. I made my way over to the dressing rooms to begin the process of elimination.

The dressing rooms are in a very central location, and consist of a partitioned off area vaguely blocked by a short, billowy curtain. I am sure if someone tried they could see what was going on inside but I didn't care. I had a lot of dresses to try on and wanted to move the selection process along. Many dresses didn't make the final cut and there was one specific dress that was deceptively small. It was a one piece that didn't have any zippers, fasteners, buttons...it seemed that the best way to put to put this dress on was on over the head. In the spirit of hurrying I got it over my head, arms in the long sleeves, neck hole over my chest aaaaannnndddd....stuck. I was stuck and my arms were totally trapped in this fashion nightmare of a straightjacket. They were bound and positioned in an uncomfortable way that made me look like a t-rex giving a perpetual double hi-five. I tried to tug on the dress but there was just no getting it back up and over my chest. This is one of the few times the only time in my entire life that an A cup was too big for something. I started to freak out a little and while flailing around I heard the ominous sound of stressed fabric ripping.

Luckily I brought Ric, my fashion advisor, who was nearby to assist with the dress selection process. Anxiety had tipped the scale of modesty in favor of escaping the dress, and I shamelessly stepped out of the dressing room to ask for assistance. A smirk blossomed on Ric's face when he saw the predicament I was in. He obligingly stepped into the dressing room with me and helped me carefully remove the dress. Crisis averted! I was imagining that the staff there would have to cut it off of me.

Despite the dressing room panic attack, the shopping trip was not all for naught; I ended up getting two spectacular dresses for a mere $26.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

I just received this awesome email.

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Leeloo Dallas Multipass

I’ve been trying to identify with this feeling I’ve had all day, it’s like restlessness paired with a discontent or dissatisfaction. I can’t quite put my finger on what I’m feeling and also can’t figure out where the feeling is coming from. I am aware I have several emotional irons in the fire at the moment; the topics in my head cover the spectrum of work, school and life in general. It seems like what I’m feeling originates in the brain, travels to the heart, courses through my veins to my extremities and fills me with what can best be described as a distracted annoyance. What’s more, since I’ve been so entrenched in the Bridges’ Transitions Model I am really taking a close look at everything with a different lens.

I started this term thinking to myself, “hmm...this model doesn’t currently apply to me, I’m not going through any changes” but am now rethinking this stance. I feel like I am enmeshed in change, everything thing that happens, everything I do, voluntarily and involuntarily is this big swirl of several simultaneous changes and stages of transition. On one level, I just tell myself that I’ve over-analyzing everything and to relax. Sleeping on something that's bothering me and looking at it again the next day has been very helpful in avoiding an abrupt and unplanned reaction. But I feel for a while there has been a nagging sensation in the background. Once I started really getting into the assignments in this class, these other somewhat stationary shipwrecks became dislodged from the sea floor and broken pieces are beginning to surface.

I’m feeling the pressure of school and the upper division course load. Sometimes I think that the university environment doesn’t understand that some students are older and have to work full time to maintain self-sufficiency. I have some personal stuff in the mix, for example having the realization that I am experiencing the loss of a friend. I don’t mean to imply that they passed away; I mean to say that time and space has a way of growing a chasm between familiar comfortability. The result is a lingering nostalgia and circumstances warranting powerlessness with regard to making a change. Work is a full time plus situation, easy. There are million and one things going on at work, on a variety of levels occurring all the time. I provide direct services so the challenge of serving people covers quite the spectrum. I am also a manager so I have a lot of obligations specific to that also weighing heavily on my mind. There’s also the precarious nature of grant funding, the Affordable Care Act, fiscal cliffs and other federal budget things going on. And of course staff specific issues are present. For example, we just brought a new executive director on board (literally today, like about 3 hours ago we all found out). We had been without one since November so our company has been in a state of flux.

Anxiety is a funny thing. Before I knew what it was, I could never articulate the coiled spring feeling I had inside of me.  Now that I can see it for what it is, I can take measures to reduce it or steps to circumvent it. Exercise is great for this. So is yoga in my basement, listening to music or listening to nothing at all but the sound of silence. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed. Most of the time I'm good.

I’ve been big on self-care these past few years. I’ve figured out some things that refresh me. Hanging out in the eastern Oregon desert, a hike in the mountains or in the gorge, a walk around an empty abandoned industrial area on a warm weekend day. I like expressing creativity, lately it’s been cooking or sewing but that’s just two in a sea of a million.

I like The Fifth Element and Bruce Willis and Mila Jovovich.  

Monday, April 22, 2013

this bike has a lot of stuff on it

I noticed this bike parked in the bike room of the building I work at. I think I first noticed the cheek seat and the oversized mirror, but then became very interested in the gigantic assortment of bells, lights, baskets, gadgets and accessories all over the bike. This dude has so much stuff on his bike that there isn't any way he could possibly park it in the bike racks (seen in the background). He has to park it off to the side and lock the wheel to the frame of the bike. 

I have a lot of stuff on my bike but think for the most part it is pretty contained and not over the top like this bike. My bike fits in the bike rack. I have a basket in the front and a basket in the back, a bell and some lights. No special seating, no mirrors, no extra bells. The guy who owns this bike is pretty awesome. He looks exactly how you think he'd look.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Transitions (and homework)

I'm taking a course this term that has us reading from "Transitions" and "Managing Transitions" by William Bridges. To sum up these books in a brief synopsis, every experience and change throughout life starts with an ending, has you spending time in a transition period also known as "the neutral zone," and ends with the next new beginning. This cycle occurs continuously and concurrently with other changes all throughout our lives.

I'm about three quarters of the way through both of these books and so far they are great. I find that through the process of reading these books and participating in class assignments, I am looking at my life and recognizing the cycle of transitions that have occurred and also cycles that I am currently in. Thinking about transitions has also helped me recognize that changes come in all sizes and the transition process can last for varying amounts of time.

Over the weekend, my class was assigned homework--we had to write an essay in which we apply Bridges' transitions model to a transition in our lives that was especially meaningful to us. The parameters include having personal accounts relating to the different parts of the transition and also citing some quotations from our text. I thought working the quotes in would be a challenge, however once I started writing it was like the words and sentences were just cascading out of my brain and into my typing fingers. We had a 3-page maximum and I had to cut about a 1/2 page out. After the editing, this is what I came up with:

I remember clearly identifying that it was time for a change. I had settled into the dull monotony of my mundane life in Tampa, Florida, and felt unsatisfied. After taking a close look at my friends and family, I made a conscious decision that I didn’t want to settle for life on their terms. The time for a change was right—I was an invincible 21-year old and I didn’t have any obligations holding me down. I felt restless and decided to alleviate the feeling by planning a trip around the United States. I had two other friends at the time that also embraced the spirit of adventure and made arrangements to join me, and our travel occurred during June through August of 1995. We purchased an Amtrak rail pass and loosely put together an itinerary based on places we were curious about and had heard were worth a visit. We planned to ride the rails in a large circle around the United States, however my new beginning was going to start at the end of my trip: New York City. Once there, I was planning on moving in with my cousin for an indefinite amount of time.

The Ending

What I didn’t realize at the time when I was planning this trip is that I was floundering through an ending. I was somewhat in a state of denial regarding a relationship that ended six months earlier. This was probably the most serious relationship I had been in so far and our grand love affair ended abruptly, without the telltale prior warning signs. It hit me out of the blue like a ton of bricks, and I had a hard time wrapping my head around how my life had turned upside down. The dissolving of our union thrust me into a mental place where every daily motion and interaction seemed hollow, unfulfilled and foreign. Activities that used to bring me joy didn’t hold the same luster anymore, and with each passing day I felt that I identified less and less with my daily routines.  I started scrutinizing my environment and just about everyone I knew either was a young parent, a criminal, or both. They did not have higher education aspirations or a sense of self-sufficiency, and I felt like an outlier. I felt driven to search for something I could not articulate; not satisfied with the status quo I felt that embarking on an adventure might relieve the feeling of confusion I was experiencing.

With regard to the five aspects of the natural ending experience, I was definitely experiencing most of these simultaneously. Looking back at where I was at that time, I had no idea who Bridges was or that people even experience transitions through life’s changes. I definitely experienced disenchantment in the 6-month space between the relationship break up and leaving home in Florida for good. I also had been disengaging from what was familiar and had been dismantling my old life and routines piece by piece. In “Transitions,” Bridges states, “In breaking your old connections to the world and taking apart the internal structures required by those connections, you also lose your old ways of defining yourself.” (Bridges pp. 115-116). I didn’t know who I was but I did know that what had been occurring wasn’t what I wanted going forward, and life up to that point had become unfulfilling.

The Neutral Zone

I have a vivid memory of the day in early June of 1995 when I closed the chapter on living in Tampa. It was a clear and warm morning; my buddy Neil came down to the train station to wish me “a happy rest of your life” and I think that’s what finally made the ending of leaving Florida a tangible reality.  I remember feeling a concrete disconnect from that environment as I watched the scenery pass by when train pulled out of the station. I had all of my worldly possessions in my backpack and had no idea what was going to happen next. I felt exhilarated at the prospect of pulling into strange towns and relying on maps and guides to navigate and meet short-term objectives. As we traveled to town after town, we had the opportunity to meet many new people and enjoy all kinds of unexpected experiences.

In chapter 6 of “Transitions,” Bridges states: “For many people, the experience of the neutral zone is essentially one of emptiness in which the old reality looks transparent and nothing feels solid anymore.” (Bridges p. 139). Bridges goes on to say two pages later, “[The second] reason for the gap between the old life and the new is that the process of disintegration and reintegration is the source of renewal.” (Bridges p. 141). Looking back at my personal transition occurring, the two-month gap between Florida and New York involved so much more then physical relocating.  I was on a physical journey to see the landscape of the land but also on a spiritual journey to figure out who I was, what I wanted and where I was going.

The New Beginning 

By mid-August, we pulled into Grand Central Station in New York City. All three of us were staying with my family for a couple of weeks however this was my final destination. When my traveling companions left New York, I stayed behind and started the next chapter in my life. I felt no negative anxiety, only excitement as I quickly settled into a new and wonderful routine.

Bridges states, “Genuine beginnings depend upon this kind of inner realignment rather than on external shifts, for it is when we are aligned with deep longings (the real wantings discussed in Chapter 5) that we become powerfully motivated.” (Bridges p. 163). I have first-hand experience with inner realignment driving an external shift. After all, it was a spark from within my spirit that initiated the desire to change how things were. This facilitated a need to change the current circumstances of my life but not knowing what I wanted or how I would achieve that.

Having the ability to go on an unscripted journey for an indefinite amount of time provided the setting and backdrop for internal changes that were inevitability coming. Being in a new physical space was the perfect vehicle to evolve into a more aware state of being. Looking back, I feel that it was easier to assimilate into a new beginning from a new environment. The new environment also made it easier to disassociate from the feelings of emptiness and ambivalence I had experienced in Florida and gave me a renewed sense of living. Living in New York provided some pretty great opportunities and I remember feeling a high degree of fulfillment. I am very glad that I took the initiative and had the courage to embark on the journey during the summer of 1995. I can honestly say that this transition has had a life-long impact on who I am and what my values are.