Gazing Upon the Works of Others

Autumn Maple, 2014

This is probably my last autumn photo of the year. I sure didn’t make this tree, but I did work to save its life one year during a terrible drought that pushed it to the brink. Taking extra steps to keep this pretty piece of Creation around seemed the least I could do for the sake of nature in general and our backyard in particular.

* * * * *

This week I received a promotion at my day job. It’s a positive, very appreciated thing, but I’m reminded of an exchange from Kyle Baker’s Why I Hate Saturn, in which the journalist protagonist and her gruff editor banter for several pages before ending the conversation with:

“By the way, you got a raise.”
“Great. Now I can work less. Bye.”

…so instead of putting in voluntary overtime week-in week-out because of multiple anxieties, this upward step may allow me more margin so I can start sleeping more than 5-6 hours a night. I hear I’m supposed to want to do that, but I don’t get it. Theoretically a few more minutes could be freed up for writing, but I have a feeling I’d use them for quantity rather than quality. That inner struggle of “more words” vs “better words” has been bothering me lately. Perhaps exploring this in print so late at night skews my vote, but in this moment the extra rest sounds much more appealing to me.

* * * * *

After work today I treated my wife to dinner, followed by a brief stop at an art show. Behold our celebratory pizza from Bazbeaux:


That’s half Mediterranean for my wife, half Tchoupitoulas for me. My half was too spicy for her, but I liked both varieties. Unfortunately, all the andouille sausage that was supposed to be on the Tchoupitoulas half wound up in a single clump at the corner of a Mediterranean slice, along with some of my Tchoupitoulas spices, turning one of her four portions into a No Man’s Land slice of Greco-Cajun pizza. To be fair, it was good Greco-Cajun pizza, something I’d expect to see served if Gambit ever had a big fat Greek wedding.

* * * * *


Our niece helped make that. She granted permission to take pics. “We Love Our City” is a mixed media, three-dimensional sculpture, though the photo doesn’t do justice to the tiny network of bicycle racks and other urban trimmings planted along its streets. This collaborative creation was deemed worthy enough for exhibition in a charity art event tonight. My wife and I attended in person after our Athens-on-the-bayou dinner, and felt our jaws drop when we heard the professional-level silent-auction bids it was eliciting from more than one patron. Obviously we’re proud, though we resisted the temptations to outbid them with money we didn’t have, or to create an official Wikipedia entry for her. Another time, then.

* * * * *

That’s what we did with our Friday night while the rest of the country went to see Interstellar so they could all hurry up and fight about it. Alas, timing of other, unrelated events precludes me from catching it before next Saturday. I’ve missed opening weekends for several movies this year because of unfortunate timing. It’s not really an Important Issue, just something that keeps happening to me and bars me from joining timely conversations with other hobbyists.

Remember, kids: having your simple pleasures delayed or denied is part of adulthood. The trick is to find other simple pleasures to tide you over. If they’re more meaningful pursuits, then hey, bonus.

* * * * *

The most thought-provoking writing I’ve read all week is linked below: an essay by journalist Quinn Norton about the dangers of letting productivity measures define every aspect of life, the slow extinction of contemplative wisdom, the joy in the unquantifiable, and the merits of boredom. I had no idea the header would auto-embed like this, but there it is.

View story at

After I finished reading that, I sat and thought for a while. At some point I reminded myself that sometimes it’s okay to write whatever thoughts flow quickly and briefly from my head instead of treating every entry like an overwrought symphony for an orchestra of one and an audience of ten.

Before I began typing, I pulled up my photo of our backyard and spent several blank minutes staring into all that orange and…

…I don’t recall everything that came to mind during that time. All I know is here I am at the point where I expected to stop typing, and I’m now more relaxed and awake than I was when I started. I’m in a peaceful mindset, though my chances of sleeping more than six hours tonight are now effectively nil.


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