Reclaiming Experience

This blog is a tool for recording my experiences as well as evaluating my day-to-day life. With my camera in hand, I will make meaning out of my life.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Day 60: One More Week

I am tiiiiiiired tonight.  A week from now, I will be celebrating the end of my grad school program.  Although I have enjoyed the program and have learned a lot from it, I will be glad when it is over.  Time will be on my side, or at least more time will be on my side.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Day 59: Epic Fail?

Tonight I worked on my creative thought project.  I started it over a week ago, but the time crunch produced more work tonight.  The idea was that I would create an impressionist-like mosaic.  I used a photograph I took as the basis for the image and then other photographs I took as the pieces to make up the image.  In the first picture, you see the cutouts I made.
This next photograph shows the image I took while in Oregon.  We were staying along the coast, and this sunset was beckoning my camera.  This was taken back in 2009 while on a road trip to the west.  It was an Earth Science road trip that involved sights representing many of the topics I teach.

This next image shows my sketch drawing.  I originally started with a larger drawing, but after I started cutting out the shapes, I realized my goals were too ambitious, so I scaled down my drawing.  I also eliminated some of the people from the silhouettes.  I thought a single person would represent a stronger image.
The process begins.  It took me about an hour to cut out these pieces for the first row.  I considered using a hole punch for consistent circles, but I felt that uniformity was not my goal, so I cut out each piece.  My hand hurt as I repetitiously cut out the shapes.

After cutting out the first pieces last week, I thought I'd try using an exacto knife.  Theory did not prove well with practice, so I continued with the scissors.  At this point I could see my thoughts beginning to materialize, and it did not appear to be as great as I had envisioned.  Normally, at this point I would stop the project and move onto something else.  In this case, I had to persevere and I found myself getting back into a rhythm.  

Listening to music while I worked helped me regain the motivation I needed to continue.  The music ranged from Three Days Grace to Micheal Jackson, but the variety seemed appropriate.  As I continued to cut out more pieces, I realized that it was strange that I was cutting apart my photographs.  I really like the images that I take and to disfigure them seemed odd.  I found comfort in knowing that I would be creating something new with my images.

You will have to wait to see the final product until next week.  Until then, we will see if the product turns out how I imagined.  Below you will see photographs that I used to make up the larger image.

Steele Studio in Indiana

Grand Canyon

Fall Foliage

Pumpkin Army

Monk Tourist at Notre Dame

Man at Giverny
Heavy Thoughts at Notre Dame

Entertainer at Au Lapin Agile

San Marco Campanile

Moulin Rouge

Stairs Up to Notre Dame Gargoyles


Kew Gardens Flowers

Monday, February 27, 2012

Day 58: Trinkets

Today's picture is random, but that is okay.  I bought this little vase back in January on sale.  It was less than $3, but I think it is so beautiful.  I wonder who the girl is and what she is doing...

Today we had a holocaust survivor speak to our 8th graders.  One student asked her what she missed most from her items left behind in the cattle car, and she couldn't really say.  She talked about how she has learned that materials don't matter much.  She then went on to say that she had a lot of friends, and that was much more important.  I can't say that I have a lot of friends, but the ones I have are keepers.

I completely agree with her statement about material items.  I think the only reason I like material things so much is because of the memories attached to it, whether I was with friends or family.  Perhaps it is not wise to become so attached to these trinkets, it brings out the hoarder in me. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Day 57: Sunday Funday

I had a hard time focusing on work today, so I tried to redirect my work towards something more interesting.  For my creative thought class I had to pick an activity from our text, and one of them was to visit a labyrinth.  Before today, I did not know what this was, but now that I know, I want to know more.  I looked for local labyrinths to walk and found one in Oswego.  It is located at the Presbyterian Church.

I intended to venture alone, but as I began to leave, Kendra gave me the look.  So I took her on my journey.  She didn't exactly walk the Labyrinth with me, but she did walk around it.  It would have been really interesting if she naturally walked it, maybe a little creepy.  I am definitely intrigued by these little journeys and would like to visit more.

Later in the afternoon I went wine tasting with Carolyn and Kelli.  We enjoyed the tastes of several wines.  I was happy that I got to sip on a port-like wine.  We sat and talked for a couple hours, then moved on to dinner to fill our stomachs.  What a fantastic Sunday.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Day 56: Road Trip

Today I took a quick trip to Indy with the Reece's.  It was a quickly planned trip because I was going through withdrawal symptoms.  This was Kendra's first trip to Indiana.  

Our first stop was at Brown's Antiques in Zionsville.  There are these yellow shutters there that I have seen several times and have loved each time I saw them.  A couple months ago, I even had a dream about them in my house.  I finally gave in today and bought them.  I don't have plans for them yet, but I just know that I love them.  The owner of the three buildings is such a friendly guy.  I find a little more joy in buying something from a place that I know the owners and feel as though I have made a contribution to their business.  I also was happy to find that the shutters were painted by a local artist.  I am very happy with my purchase.

Here you see some more images of the place.  When I took my photography tour in Venice, the guide said that you should try to focus on little details that make that city unique to you.  He said of course you are going to take the postcard pictures of San Marco and the Rialto, but dig deeper to find the typically unseen places of the city.  I found this guy on the door outside one of the little sheds at the antique store.  It reminded me of Venice.  I love visiting antique stores because there are so many of these hidden little gems, and it is like a game to find them and let the place tell its story.

This picture shows some of the buildings.  Visiting this area in the spring or summer is the best.  His gardens are absolutely beautiful and the paths have a rustic feel to them.  I highly recommend going to Brown's on 5th street in Zionsville if you are in the area.

From here we went to visit Noblesville so that I could check out the schools.  I think I would be very lucky to get in this area.  I am sending a prayer tonight for a little help with getting the edge that I need to get a job down there and make the move.

After Noblesville we ventured to Goose The Market to grab some meat.  From there we hunted down the West Coast Taco's food truck.  We were beginning to lose hope, but the big black truck unveiled itself and good food was eaten.  

Our next stop was the rental house that I saw online.  I really liked it when I looked at the website, but I loved it when I saw it in person.  It seems so perfect.  I love the neighborhood, the price is right, central air, two bedrooms, big windows, fireplace, garage, yard for a garden, etc.  I wish that I could grab it now before it is too late.  It looks like home.  Here is the website if you want to check it out.  Right now the upstairs and downstairs is available.

Our final stop was a dairy farm on the way home.  We tasted and bought some delicious cheeses.  All in all, it was a good day.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Day 55: Thoughts on a Friday Night

 I have several unrelated thoughts that I'd like to share tonight.  My pictures have no real connection with my thoughts.  The first deals with my photographs.  As I look through my blog thus far, I am pleased with my ability to document the days, but as I look through the photos, there are only a few that actually stand out as good.  I think this is the result of not having enough time and being worn out.  Beyond finding happiness in each day, I also wanted to improve my photography.  I do not feel that this is happening yet. As grad school finishes up (2 weeks!), I hope to seek growth with my photography.  I love it so much, and I want to be the best that I can.  In the past year I have realized that this love will probably never materialize into a career or big money-maker, but it is my favorite hobby and I want to be really good at it.

The second thought that excites me is the fact that my trip is less than a month away now.  It is funny how so much of the time seems to go so slow, but as the trip approaches, it seems to come so fast.  Next week will be March; how exciting!  If my blog ends on March 23, it means that I have decided not to come back.

The final thought of the night is about the pursuit of happiness.  I forget sometimes that I am not in complete control of my destiny.  I remember learning about the different theories in my humanities class in high school.  We discussed naturalism, existentialism, and other thoughts on life and fate.  I remember reading McTeague and being so frustrated because it focuses on nothing being in our power and everything just being our fate.  Personally, I believe we are in control, but only up to a certain point.  I can choose to drive my car to work, but another car may hit me and end my life.  I didn't choose to die, but something out of my power decided for me.  

This is why I have such a strong belief in things "happening for a reason."  Hindsight seems to help validate this claim, but the truth is not always clear in the moment.  I keep thinking about this in terms of future plans.  I can completely force something to happen, but if it does not happen the right way, the outcome will be different.  I have such great support from my aunts and my roommate with my dream to move, but in reality, it is a dream because of the opportunities I will have.  If it doesn't happen the right way, then it will not be a great experience like I envision.  If I move no matter what, then something may be sacrificed because of the time I lose with several jobs, the lack of money, etc.  It has to happen the right way.  Psychologically, I also feel that this will be my assurance that I made the right choice.  

So until I can be sure of my destiny, I continue trying my best.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Day 54: Visual Cues

Today is a Kendra picture day, but I thought I'd get a different angle.  Happiness can often be seen without any words necessary.  In fact, there is a distinct look to those that are happy; it cannot be hidden. 

Kendra has several ways to show her emotions, but her tail is a clear sign of her mood.  Tonight you can tell that she is upbeat.  When she is not feeling well, her tail hangs low and does not resemble the tight curl that is known with pugs.  Although humans don't have tails, I think the signs are just as easily visible.

On a side note, it is strange how I got on this topic.  I find myself discussing topics that were not planned.  I guess that is the fun of just letting the thoughts spill out on the keyboard with the picture being the centerpiece.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Day 53: Interpreting the Clutter

If you look around someone's space, you will learn much about them without even knowing who they are.  I have growing clutter piles, but I found one this evening that makes me happy instead of feeling a sense of chaos.  As I looked on my desk I found several travel artifacts lying on top of travel reading.  There is something about holding onto relics from a trip.  I use the word relic because it almost holds a holy power over me.  At least some of my mess is interesting.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Day 52: From Ordinary to Interesting

I'm feeling pretty lazy tonight, so I didn't leave my room to get my pictures.  Shortly after getting home this evening, I took a nap on the couch, and I've felt pretty sleepy since.

One of my main goals with this blog was to improve my photography.  I still have a long way to go.  I want to work on making the ordinary more interesting.  Isn't that what we try to do in life?  So tonight you see some images from my room and my attempt at making them more interesting.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Day 51: The Melissa Reece Historical Tour

Someday, if I am ever well known for my actions, people may want to visit my roots.  If they go back far enough, they will discover that it all began in Aurora.  On December 4, 1985 at 8:47 pm, I was born at Mercy Center Hospital.

Growing up, I went to two daycares.  The first is not pictured because I could not find it.  It was called Serendipity, and I was not a fan of that place.  Everyday I would go outside with my dad as he left for work and I would ask him, "is it going to rain today?"  We'd look up to the sky.  He said if I could see the stars that it wouldn't rain and if I couldn't see the stars, that it would rain (not the greatest meteorological prediction, but perhaps just about as accurate as the news).  I hated when it rained because it meant recess was inside.  I had bullies that would constantly tease; one spitting on my pillow, and one even pulling down my pants.  I also experienced chicken pox while there and surviving the Plainfield Tornado as my dad was pelted with hail when he came to get me.  

What is left of the second daycare is seen in the second picture.  I did not like this daycare much better, but I made a friend with downs syndrome.  I took care of her and she gave me something to keep occupied with as I waited for my parents to return.  Across the road was the temple.  We feared it after hearing of animal sacrifices.  After actually visiting the temple last year, I laughed at my silliness because I actually felt a great sense of respect for the religion and place of worship.

I began school at O'Donnell Elementary.  I went there up until second grade.  There are memories of being called the worst class, kicking boys, and getting in trouble for bringing a large amount of money to school.  My best friend was only that about every other day.  When I found out we were moving, I was so excited.  I see a parallel to now.  I was so excited for a chance to start over.  My friend said they thought they might move out to DeKalb to, but I told her there were not anymore houses for sale.  I needed a clean break.

Whenever I smell paste, I am taken back to elementary.  I remember the margarine tubs of paste that sat at every table.

Across the road was this creepy, swampy area.  I remember hearing stories of bodies being stashed in the woods.  Needless to say, we never went over there.

The final pictures are of the second apartment we lived in.  As I drove into the complex I had memories just rushing through my mind.  I passed the pool and remember when I nearly drowned.  I passed a shrubery and remembered burying a dead bird there with my friend, Edward.  I remember my dad not putting the truck in park as he went to get the mail and me moving in the truck by myself.  

1985 Tall Oaks Dr. Apt 1A (or A1 as I called it) is where I spent a good amount of time growing up.  I can't remember if it is the apartment on the right or left of the stairs.  There were many good memories here, but also several bad.  This is the reason that we left Aurora.  Drugs and graffiti took over the complex, and it was time to start a new life.  I am so grateful that we did because I do not know where my life would have taken me if I would have stayed.  I don't think I'd be the level headed person that I am now.  Would I have kids?  Would I have gotten into drugs?  Would I have made it to college?  Luckily, I didn't have to find out.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Day 50: It's a Beautiful Day, Don't Let it Get Away

 What a beautiful morning it was.  I could not resist going out, no matter what I ended up doing.  Since it was still early for a Sunday, I headed to do my usual grocery shopping.  My first stop was at Whole Foods.  As I got out of the car, I saw these two guys.  I almost walked in, but I did a double take and decided I should take a picture.  Apparently they couldn't resist getting outside either.

While at Whole Foods, I found that Rick Bayless has these new sauces available.  I found one for tacos that looked delish.  I fixed it tonight and once I took the first bite I was instantly taken back to West Coast Tacos in Indy.  I am in love with this sauce.  I look forward to trying new flavors in the future.  Look at that meal!  That is good stuff.