Too Many Interests

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’ve really gotta pare down my interests and learn to focus.

For the most part, I’ve been managing to stick to my guns and keep doing the things that need doing: the novel’s getting written, and it’s been a while since I’ve let a weekday go by without posting something here. I’d call that progress.

But oh man, the rest of my time has just been shot to hell by one distracting, tangential pursuit or another.

Photography? I don’t know if it’s fair to call that a distraction anymore. I’m enjoying it, seem to be a little good at it, and I’ve been sticking with it consistently enough to feel like I’m building up my skills. That said, I have no idea what I want photography to turn into.

Is it something I want to do for fun?

Is it something I think I can make money at?

Having gone forty years without even thinking about visual art of any sort, the idea of pursuing one seriously is so alien to me that I can’t wrap my head around it. So, I haven’t really bothered to try. I’m just doing it, and worrying about what it’s going to be later.

Then there’s poetry.

I’ve been meaning to write a proper post about this interest for a while, but it’s probably not happening anytime soon. Suffice it to say, I started digging into poetry a few months ago—its methods, its classics—and enjoyed the experience enough to try my hand at it. And while I can’t say I have much skill at versification, I can say that I like it.

Unfortunately, I’ve neither been reading nor writing poetry with nearly enough consistency to get much of anything out of it. I maybe spend an hour, broken up, every other week on it, which means it’s little more than a depressing distraction.

A distraction, because I’ll have nothing to show for the effort. And depressing because doing any makes me feel like I should be doing more.

Finally, there’s the newest distraction: film making.

Look, Ma! It’s a still from a movie I inexplicably spent half an afternoon making!

Holy hell, where did this come from?

My DSLR camera actually takes decent video, and there are quite a few guides on how to go about doing just that. So, in the spirit of trying to learn the various features of my camera, I decided to shoot a few test videos in my house.

Just to know how, you see? Nothing more.

Two days and five hours of Adobe Premiere later, and I’m looking at a reasonably-creepy, 56-second scene and writing notes about a short film it inspired.

What’s wrong with me?

Whatever it is, it’s getting old. I have things I need and want to do, and while they’re getting done, fighting all the distractions is leaving me exhausted at the end of the day.

And not the good kind of exhausted, like you get after a great workout. It’s the bad kind, like you just spent twenty hours running from a horde of zombies and know you’ll have to do it again the next day.

Whatever.

I’ll just write this on the list of things to speak to my therapist about.

Tabletop Madness

Last Saturday was Tabletop Day—a fact I totally missed at the time. Still, I’m not terribly upset about that, considering I ended up spending the day playing tabletop games anyway.

Specifically, I ran my usual (and mostly-weekly) Call of the Cthulhu game for my daughter and a couple of friends. I love that system. Even with it’s totally insane and hysterically-lethal combat system, not to mention the randomly-rolled attributes and other old-school artifacts.

It was my first paper-and-pencil RPG that wasn’t Dungeons & Dragons, and I don’t think anything will ever truly replace it in my heart.

Anyway, as much as I lament the fact that I don’t seem to play video games as much as I used to, I realized on Saturday that I actually do a fair bit of tabletop gaming these days. I play the usual suspects with my daughter, like Battleship and Scrabble, and there’s the aforementioned RPG (and, yes, I’ve run a D&D game or two for her as well), but there are also other isolated dollops of dice-rolling or deck-building goodness.

Like the several boxes of Magic: The Gathering cards we dig out every so often.

And the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game.

And that modern classic of frustration and friendship-ending, Pandemic.

I love them all, and I especially love sharing them with her—doing my part to pass along the hobby to the next generation.

Or maybe I just like pretending I’m back in high school, spending my study halls rolling twenty-siders and trying to convince my long-suffering GM that the Grease spell can totally be used as an accelerant.

Look Where Others Don’t

The photo I shared here yesterday is one of my favorites, and while I haven’t commented much on those I’ve posted before, I can’t help but talk about this one.

My daughter and I were walking around downtown Keene, when I ducked into an alley and shot this as she muttered: “There he goes again.”

love alleys.

They’re full of interesting things, and what’s more, no one ever seems to notice just how wonderful they are.

Out on the street?

Nine out of ten times, what you see out front has been hand-crafted. Windows washed, sidewalks swept, brickwork scrubbed—gotta keep it clean for the tourists.

And while I don’t mean to sound derisive or elitist, I find scenes like that boring as hell. There’s no energy or interest to be found in a well-kept facade.

But out back, down the alley? No one bothers to pull the weeds, paint the drain pipe, or wash the lone window overlooking the dumpster.

And that’s the good stuff.

That’s where you see the real rhythm of a place—employees on a smoke break, the stray cat nosing a forgotten sandwich, a beam of light illuminating unkempt vines that have been challenging the brick for decades.

I love absolutely everything about the picture above.

The lines of the poles, that patch of light on the wall, the pallet. The vines, the wires, that tire track—everything. Not a single thing in this photo looks out of place to me, and not one bit of it was planned out or made beautiful for the public.

It just is beautiful.