Posts Tagged ‘chad calease’
Our family had many conversations about a reboot, about just letting her start over from scratch or some kind of baseline, as her responses continued to jump all over the place, though, none of them maintaining any stasis for any period of time greater than a couple of days before she would inevitably slide deeper into a place far removed from us, and far removed from the woman we know and love. It turned out there would not be time for that.
In a period of about 20 days, after struggling to maintain a seemingly slowly declining level of motor function, Mom went from being mobile with assistance to not able to walk at all. We all stood, stunned, unable to process such rapid decline, which to us was cruel and hard to accept.
Turns out vascular dementia is far more common than any of us ever would have known. It is largely unknown, regarding treatment, as it involves, at least in Mom’s case, dozens, or sometimes hundreds, of micro-strokes taking place in the brain throughout the day, commonly as she sleeps. The combination of micro-strokes slowly, gradually continues to affect more and more systems and shuts them down ever so slowly. Due to the complexity of the brain, medical practitioners call it a “moving target” – something difficult, if not impossible, to diagnose, let alone treat. Yet, it goes under-diagnosed in many cases. And over-treated as other disorders in many others.
I am grateful we were able to spend her last night at home together. Lying beside her in the night, I thanked her for her grace, her care, her love, for all of her lessons: from teaching me to be on time for things, to always express gratitude to those who make our lives rich, for being mindful and choosing friends wisely and sometimes not-so-wisely, and for making us kids the most important thing in her universe for as long as we can all remember.Tears were shed, no doubt, but smiles emerged and laughs squeaked out of the darkness, too, as she had some sentient moments filled with her memories and insights, including, “Give that little boy all your love, don’t hold anything back” – regarding my 16-month-old boy, her only grandson. We hugged, we cried, we savored each and every moment of that night.
It was the last night she spent at home after almost 48 years.
How do we handle these events? Somehow. By lack of sleep, more-strenuous-than-usual workouts, very long walks and talks, somehow, we get through it. By remembering and listening to the stories, the beautiful, wonderful, vivid stories Dad tells about when they first met. How they got through their own struggles, starting with nothing and overcoming obstacles of all shapes and sizes. They did it together for almost half a century.
There is no way to know how much longer she will be with us. She sleeps mostly now, generally unresponsive to requests to eat, drink, or take any meds. There is not much left of her but skin and bone. Her beautiful shape has withered to a ghost of who we expect to see under the warm blankets wrapped around her as she sleeps the hours away in a place none of us recognize.
The people who are there to help her are good people. The hospice nurses check her vitals and have a good manner with Dad, who reassures us she is comfortable. For the time being, she is in the very best place she can be. My little sister and I visit every chance we get as the weeks have dwindled by, in between work and family and hoping the phone does not ring. Long days and nights.
Why am I writing this, anyway? Honestly, I guess I just don’t know what else to do. Grief is such a strange beast. I know I should be sleeping. I suppose I put these words here so I can see them clearly, as my feelings change so fast it is hard to make sense of them sometimes. My own moving target, perhaps. I will look back at this one day soon and being to process all that is about to change for all of us in my family. In the meantime, I am a dresser filled with drawers of undeveloped film, rolls of the stuff tousled about with each opening and closing of each drawer, uncovering more and more photographs taken by memory’s camera, of time and fleeting emotions. A family’s life history in pictures, moments, memories of notions.
Even as it is a brutal process, I am grateful for such vivid reminders, as gifts of the highest caliber they make the suffering almost bearable, especially the stories my dad has shared about them both, things I never knew, memories now my own, even as they are mere representations of the real thing. This is being alive and then passing on alone, together, moving with the tidal motions of life and death, choosing our narratives and building our mythologies.
So thank you, Mom and Dad. You gave me the tools I need to do whatever it is I choose to do, so you did something right. You gave me life and the choice that is mine how to spend it. You have passed the torch. I will carry it for awhile and thank the gods, each and every one of them, for you and for your guidance, eloquence, patience, support, and love. Words are not enough to give back what you have given but – just so you know – I love you. Forever.
Experience is the move. The move to a new understanding, a motion towards a richer perspective. We spend our lives chasing it, striving to open up new opportunities for it, while surrounding ourselves with those who have it. A simple thing shrouded in a complicated skin, we crave it. Like water, we want to sit by it, live next to it, walk along it, sail across it, swim in it, drink it. Be it.
So many things contribute to the quality of our experience. Our choices in friends, careers, and habits are shaped by our interests and desires, which are likewise shaped by the friends, careers, and habits we allow into our lives. The cycle is fascinating and seemingly both within our control and without it at the same time. Perhaps, that’s what makes it such an elusive yet tangible thing all at once. The best things seem to work this way. A combination of choice and fate at work all at once. The simple wrapped up snugly in the complex.
Those of us with great experience generally tend to take it for granted while others seeking any at all wonder how to obtain it. A wise woman who mentored me once shared her secret to gaining experience, while ensuring its quality. She said,
Listen closely to the perspectives of someone who has not done something before. Their perspective is still fragile and open to influence. When we have experience, we tend to close our ears to amateurs, thinking we have a grasp of a skill or trade. Amateurs have an advantage in the potential of discovering things we missed along the way. Amateurs may in fact have much to teach us. Experience alone doesn’t optimize opportunities for innovation and discovery. Only openness to experience can.
In addition to being my first time in Costa Rica, this was my first time editing exclusively on an iPad. I shot everything on a variety of cameras, including a Canon 5DMKII, a waterproofed iPhone, and an iPad, but in the end dumped everything to the iPad to edit. iMovie on an iPad, while limited in its functionality compared to pro tools, proved more than sufficient, friendly, and just plain FUN to use to make this:
My awareness of adaptation began in Mr. Johnson’s 6th grade class. I was a 5th grader who school administrators felt belonged there, rather than with peers my own age. This, unbeknownst to me at the time, required a great deal of adaptation. Being smart in school was not sexy then like it is now.
Mr. Johnson began explaining the concept of adaptation using chimpanzees as context, specifically how they never sleep in the same place twice. Chimps make a new bed for themselves every night. Mr. Johnson explained how this was fascinating and went on at length to help those of us in class imagine what that would be like. He said this repeatedly: “It’s all about what you get used to”
While Mr. Johnson told his stories about chimps and adaptation, I played with a small, red stapler that said GIANT on it in big, white letters. Before he began, it had run out of staples and I needed one to bind one of my completed assignments with. I had already reloaded it with one of those bound stacks of small staples but continued to futz with it. It was splayed open like a Swiss Army knife as I listened. As I got more and more into what he was saying, I paid less and less attention to what I was doing. At one point, I pressed the stapler back together, closing it on itself with a kerchunk, putting a staple squarely into the center of my thumb. It happened so fast, as I was so engrossed with Mr. Johnson’s propositions, I hardly felt it.
Mr. Johnson was talking now about signs, traffic signs, specifically, and how new signs have little or no power because they have not been looked at much yet. People, drivers, have not had time to adapt to their existence yet and so they are likely to be ignored. Regardless of words or symbols, he continued that the average driver overlooks many details.
He went on and I looked at the ends of the staple through my thumbnail. I could see them clearly. My instinct was to pull it out. Instead, I paused and thought about adapting to having it in my thumb. What challenges would it really present? Beyond the obvious, such as infection, etc, I imagined what it would be like to tie a shoe with a staple in my thumb, wash my hands, the potential discomfort of grabbing things tightly, such as climbing a rope, and the pain I may have to adapt to.
The staple remained in my thumb for the duration of Mr. Johnson’s lecture. I did not want to pull it out during because I knew it was a puncture wound. I did not want to bleed like a stuck pig and have to excuse myself from his class. I was already on everyone’s radar as a misfit for being moved up a grade and drawing more attention to myself was the last thing I wanted to do. Instead, I waited patiently. I calmly listened to the lesson on adaptation even as I sat there, adapting to injury, working against my instinct to do otherwise. I quickly realized that urgency is often a product of conditioning. I imagined letting the staple become a part of me. It would not kill me. It probably would not even affect me enough to impact my overall quality of life. I sat there wondering what urgency means in other parts of the world. It’s all about what you get used to.
So, wherever you are now, Mr. Johnson, thank you for illustrating those ideas for me in that time and place. It was one of the most memorable lessons ever. It was powerful for the synchronicity of my wonky experience, too. As I was learning about adaptation in theory, I was applying it in realtime. Mr. Johnson, you never knew it but your lesson was more successful than you intended. As it unfolded, I was introduced to being more aware of myself and my instincts. I was learning to be more mindful of choices, to adapt and, as a result – I am more aware of what I get used to whether I am stapling myself, listening to someone, or – reading the signs.
I set some time aside to paint the other day. It had been so long since I last painted my brushes were pretty much hosed and the acrylics I had were bunk. Not to be stymied, I had the realization that, up to now, having a fair amount of digital literacy, I have never attempted to make a piece of fine art worthy of hanging on my wall using digital tools in any combination.
So, I set out to let colors and textures wander into forms pleasing to my eye and lead my tinkering. They ended up moving in a rather pixelated direction. I allowed the colors to distinguish themselves yet remain playfully arranged into seemingly real and imagined orders at the same time. What I saw all the while I was making this made me think of water moving over landscapes for hundreds of thousands of millennia, changing the literal face of a known world into something completely new, reinvented by the passing of time, viewing modern cities fallen to ruin from hundreds of miles above. You can click on the image to view it larger, if you wish.
I have a rather odd habit of imagining myself hundreds of miles up looking down on myself and what is around me. I had this same feeling as I created this piece. I call this work pixelier, pronounced as the French would in a silly, tongue-in-cheek way.
I will mount this on wood, at approximately 54″ x 31″ – It will look great in the hallway or perhaps make an even better present.
Every now and then an idea comes along that is such a no-brainer, it makes me wonder how it took so long for someone to finally think it. BEEP is just such an idea. My pals Vega, Nico, and Justin Lund are developing it on Kickstarter. Check it out and support them!
When this came out I must have watched it ten times. Thought of it again today out of the blue. What a great short film:
Beautiful and meandering live version of title track off his greatest album:
I have heard everyone say it. If I had to, I could not count how many times my pals with kids have asked, “So when are you going to be a dad?” or “How come you don’t have any kids yet?” For years I fielded kind words from my friends who considered me well suited for it, who wondered aloud why I was taking so long.
For years I thought they were mad for giving up so much of their free time.
Meanwhile, I was spending mine on every indulgence. Travel, people, ideas, experiences. I do not know what boredom is. Put me in a room and I can occupy myself indefinitely.
I was missing something. It was great sometimes. It was also unfulfilling. Eventually I grew stymied by my own modest successes. Eventually, without any sacrifice, without a reason, one day I woke up and began to allow the idea in – that it all meant very little.
Matt Johnson wrote it best as a sarcastic anthem to the selfish side of being human, True Happiness This Way Lies:
Have you ever wanted something so badly that it possessed your body and your soul? Through the night and through the day until you finally get it – and then you realize that it wasn’t what you wanted after all? And then those self-same, sickly little thoughts now go and attach themselves to something or somebody new and the whole goddam thing starts all over again…
I am grateful for many things and thank the gods moment to moment for each of them, not least of which is this mother of all adventures. I thought I knew what true collaboration was. I thought I had an idea of how much I had to learn about patience and taking care of myself. There was a time I presumed to be standing on the edge of understanding what was important to me. It may have been practice or it may have just been wasting time. Now, I am learning a kind of generosity I did not know I was capable of. Somehow, there are more authentic versions of such heavy things following me around like sauntering breezes tumbling leaves around my ankles. I have at last been introduced to myself. Looking into the eyes of your own child does that. My pals were hardly kidding.
Tonight my little boy lies here over my shoulder. Inspired by this picture of Daschel and I, taken by his mother, I write this as I snuggle him and rub his face gently with the back of my hand. I am at this and each passing moment fully aware of him, his mother, our life, and my impact on it. This is now the definition of success. Whatever I used to care about, whatever I once thought important is dust. You better believe this is everything it is cracked up to be. If there is a bigger, more ultimate, adventure I would love to know what it is. I am grateful I did not miss out.
We wished for him, you see, his mother and I. We both wanted nothing more than to be parents. Each of us, alone, from the midst of our previous and interesting (albeit unsatisfying) lives daydreamed a child of our own. A miraculous occurrence. Here he is looking at me (with just one eye now, he’s getting snoozy). In that previous life I would have quietly asked myself, “What are the chances of that?”
Now, I know better. Things just got more interesting than I could have imagined.
One day I will fruitlessly try explaining this to him, knowing full well he will merely have to stumble around until he discovers it on his own as I did. I will likely blather on saying something like, “Baby, life is what you make it. Thoughts become things. Choose only the best ones.”
This is the beginning of a little boy. Imagine a small, special box tucked discreetly away within a very large place, filled with moments, pictures, and stories, all notions of a little boy named Daschel.
This past week alone, two pals of mine, who have historically resisted change, have traded their old-school cell phones (of the Symbian variety) for next-gen SmartPhones. One, an Android, the other, an iPhone. Upon getting home and beginning to introduce themselves to a new paradigm in communication technologies, each contacted me separately to ask what they need to know to get each to work the way they want, having discovered things about each that come up short.
Technology, by the way, is always a trade-off. For each convenience offered, there are always new obstacles to overcome.
As far as operating systems go, this is a seemingly timeless (and predictably endless), Coke vs. Pepsi debate. The two leading mobile/tablet platforms, Android and iOS are both far from perfect on their own. While they do have much in common, such as superb haptic interfaces and decent battery life, this is true especially when it comes to making each work the way we want, out-of-the-box. There is a tradeoff involved in each of them. This overhead includes installing and configuring them to work just the way we like.
iOS, for example, while far more mature, stable, and predictable in performance, is missing a great deal of core functionality, requiring us to jailbreak it in order to fully realize the device’s potential as a tool, both for work and play.
Android, on the other hand, is friendlier in this regard, however, lacks much of the stability and ease-of-use, requiring third party ROMs installed for seemingly every other app. This is reminiscent of Windows’ driver requirements, each of which further contributes to a system’s unpredictable performance.
Much of this is due to the Android Market being less discerning in terms of the quality of apps it allows into the wild. We do complain about Apple’s App Store for not being as utilitarian as we’d like, however, it is far more discriminating about the quality of apps offered. This, in addition to superior hardware design, contribute to making iOS the more stable and predictable platform.
The best of breed, IMHO, is jailbroken iOS. The addition of tools, such as coreutils, Terminal, OpenSSH, and SBSSettings, adds the invaluable functionality of Debian to the stability of the existing platform atop the elegant design and usability of the hardware.
As stated earlier, though, not without a little time and effort ; )
As an example, one of the additional steps required on iOS (post-jailbreak) occurs after installing and configuring OpenSSH. Upon connecting to devices, we see the following error once we are logged into a shell and perform the ls command to view contents of the current directory:
>ls: unrecognized prefix: hl
>ls: unparsable value for LS_COLORS environment variable
This issue is well known and documented in a Debian Bug report log:
#544871 – coreutils: ls complains about LS_COLORS: unrecognized prefix: hl, color define has been changed from hl to mh, which produced the error.
There is a simple solution to this. Do:
modify the dircolors value thus: eval “$(dircolors -b | sed s/hl/mh/)”
then do: source /etc/profile.d/coreutils.sh
Well-known is documented is great, however, it is preferable to not have to modify anything at all and without requiring additional time researching and/or sleuthing. Things are indeed getting better, though, and as each evolves, we will continue to see improvement in the way each is used and developed, requiring less and less overhead at the outset in order to have access to the modern Swiss Army Knife that each can and will eventually be – out-of-the-box : )