I saw images that unwrapped a universe for me.
I cheated in April. That’s right, I stepped out on my commitment. It was a commitment to a daily blogging challenge, covering a letter of the alphabet for each day of the month. By the time I reached the letter L, shit had gone down so drastically in my life, it was impossible to keep up. Let’s just say I went through the second worst thing that’s ever happened to me. I’m not ready to give it away yet, but you’re sure to read about it one of these days.
Trust me when I say, it was so bad, it drove me to cheating.
But the first worst thing that ever happened to me? Way back, the guy I loved, the guy supposedly committed to me, cheated on me. Yeah, with sex. The kind of cheating you expected this post to be about. Good thing I got rid of him years ago.
But the alphabet can’t get rid of me.
That’s because I refused to accept defeat halfway through. So I stepped out on letters N through Z, and cheated by publishing a blank private page every night so that it was stamped with the right date in April. My intention was to make each post public and populated with content later when my life had settled back to its usual course.
Well, it’s been “later” for a while.
I greedily held on to fourteen or so blank posts, many of which are now filled with photos and brief vignettes. They are in fact, part of a visual labyrinth leading to clues in the treasure hunt I’ve been devising for you.
But I’m all sorts of cheater. Read on.
Today, I find myself wondering, what the hell happens to whole weeks? How is it Friday again? Or whatever day it actually is? Time and I have a bizarre relationship. Everything blends together, then takes massive leaps.
I’m never not busy, never without some all-consuming task. But while time is generous by keeping me young, it’s decidedly ungenerous when it comes to letting me get things done at a normal pace. You might say that’s code-speak for “I am slow,” but if that makes my aging slow too, I’ll take youth and untimeliness over speedy accomplishment. Unfortunately, sometimes that means taking “all the time in the world” to get lifey things done. It’s hard to tell if I cheat time or time cheats me.
Later though, when I’m old, I’ll expect time’s reverse generosity to make me a speedy-breezy, super-duper, iron-manning-at-65 dynamo. Yay time. Yay delusion.
Anyway, I’m not especially slow. I am exacting. I am tangential. One task leads to a dozen. Many things end up getting done. Concurrently. But once it’s all over, it seems like a task that should’ve taken one day, took a whole month.
Let’s say my one must-do for Friday is to pitch to a magazine about home organization. It would be reasonable to allot one or two hours to it. But first, let me gather my notes from the red notebook stored in the chest that’s blocked by a pile of papers I need to go through.
The papers, once organized, would have to go into my filing case. So that means I need to pull out all the outdated files to make room. Removing the filing case reveals ungodly dust, so naturally, I’m compelled to remove every last item off the shelf to dust it properly — cleanliness, godliness and all. If I’m dusting anyway, I may as well do the entire apartment, which of course, means having to vacuum too.
Speaking of ungodly, don’t I have laundry? But that one dress has a hole in it I need to sew beforehand, which would necessitate dealing with all the clothes I’ve tucked away to sew, considering I’m too uh — efficient — to take out the sewing kit more than once.
Remember the red notebook? I started with it. I needed notes out of it for my home organization pitch. Let’s say I work my way backwards through that entire procrastination obstacle course, and retrieve the three sentences worth of notes from the red book.
Now I need to locate the rest of the notes on the subject, written on various scraps, stored in various troubling locations. You already know where that can lead. “Troubling” means, sometimes you open a drawer and all the items in it aren’t tetris-tight and ruler-straight, and must be re-organized immediately, otherwise the world will end.
That’s what it feels like in that moment, and no power could stop you from turning that drawer upside down and attacking the items.
In between all the obstacle course sidling, there is freelance stuff, errand stuff, friend stuff, love stuff, family stuff and of course, happy hour. One day, I’ll stick exercise stuff back in there for balance, and so that I can stop insulting my buttocks in print.
Oh look. Friday is now the following Thursday. I better get that home organization pitch in before they change themes. And let’s not forget my blog post.
So here I am, cheating again. I’m winging it, and I hate winging it. I hate blogging about why I’m not blogging. But what can I do — all the slow-brewing, exacting posts I’ve got nearly done, aren’t done.
I don’t have a diamond bracelet with which to placate you, so to make up for all my blatant cheating, I’m gonna give you a peek into the treasure hunt. Naturally, there’s a preamble — the same way those three sentences out of the red notebook involved more or less a spring cleaning.
About a year and half ago, I joined Instagram. I had resisted for a long time because I thought applying all those pretty filters would be…cheating. I wanted to take photographs that were artful without the manufactured tints and enhancements. But I also didn’t want to frustrate myself by sucking at photography, even as a casual hobbyist.
Creativity for me is sustenance. It doesn’t matter whether I’m doodling or cutting out images to glue together into new ones. It’s an outlet without which I’m just about certain I’d lose the will to live. Sometimes I have macabre little daydreams about having to learn to type with my toes if I lost both of my arms, or at least, using my toes to operate some voice-to-text recorder.
So basically, in my dark thoughts, I can live without my arms, but not without creativity.
Still, I was going to leave image-chasing to the photographers. I also used to say, I’d never give up eating meat. And just like vegetarianism, photography snuck up on me.
I started caring about line, space and light quality. My cheating heart lusted after the Instagram developers’ sumptuous hues, craving them all over my mainly ordinary pictures.
So I took the cheater’s route and signed up.
Over time, I discovered there were real photographers on Instagram, not just cheaters.
I ended up winning a BlogHer Voices of the Year thingie for my Instagram feed, which led to begrudging quips about winning for my filtered images, but not for my unfiltered words.
But meanwhile, the win encouraged me to become more active with my feed. No occasion with anyone was too sacred to keep me from grabbing my phone to capture images for my “award-winning Instagram,” which I mock-annoyingly called it to detract from the real annoyingness of my constant picture-taking.
And there you have it, my “eureka.” It occurred to me, a treasure hunt could be a way to join those images to my blank alphabet posts. You can imagine my satisfaction at consolidating all the cheating in my life.
The treasure hunt might be a concurrent tidying up and creativity task for me, but for you, there could be prizes.
Here’s the first example of the pictorial entries you can expect: New York.
I do hope you decide to take part in my visual treasure hunt.
If you haven’t kept up with GG, check out:
- This goofy dance video
- This other verité-wannabe video with a bunch of bloggers
- What You’re Getting Yourself Into
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