The Downsizing Dozen: Case of the Missing Mac

photo
Well, this has been an interesting October. While one would hardly call me a Luddite, I was reduced to a smart phone, some stolen moments with my husband’s computer, and the throwback of pen upon paper, while my ancient five-year-old laptop was away for updates.

I admit that I was one of the lingering Mac users who still clung to the old Snow Leopard pride in operating systems while the rest of the world marched on to bigger cats, and eventually became mavericks reaching new heights in Yosemite. When links failed to open, secured sites became insecure, and social media lambasted me to change my browser with such frequency that I could’t ignore the situation any longer, I reluctantly scheduled surgery that would require wiping my laptop and restoring its information.

What caused such fear of change? Not so long ago, I eagerly embraced the latest operating system or newfangled gadget that would supposedly enhance my life. In a word, it is “digital,” a battle cry for minimalism, and the blessing and bane of my life. During my Great Downsizing Purge of 2014, and even before, I extolled its virtues while digitizing music, photos and documents, and backing them up in various formats.

The problem with updates and interconnecting devices, however, is that sometimes you are locked out of older program versions after updating, or your phone, computer and tablet can gang up on you in the Cloud these days, deciding to delete everything in your best interests. This, along with the realization that I’ve digitized nearly all my meaningful music, writing and photos since 2003, is enough to give me pause.

So, in October I spent an inordinate amount of time googling worst-case scenarios and possible options while waiting for my beloved word processor to return from Apple’s latest mountaintop, wondering if it could even survive the thin air of progress much less work properly. I’m happy to report that it’s running well with a fresh outlook under the lid, although my old friend came home to find a new grandchild added to the family, a tiny tablet with better retinal vision and response time than its elder.

For now, we’re progressing cautiously, with a bigger backup arsenal, a variety of devices to do the job, and a little more confidence.

Once a month for the next twelve, I’ll feature another step in the downsizing journey that didn’t just begin when we sold our suburban house and moved to a small walk-up apartment in June of 2014. This shift to a simpler life has been years in the making, and I hope you’ll join me in my family’s quest to get down to basics. My inaugural post entitled Giving It All Away was featured in July, Make It Stick in August, and Following Your Feet in September.

Advertisements

The Goodbye Girl

Curtain Call

Since my office/bedroom window faces west above the driveway, if I’m lucky there’s a gorgeous sunset to spotlight the exits of important people in my life, as they drive off to perform other enterprising roles.

I, on the other hand, remain offstage in shadowy self-employed uncertainty, waiting for all that is churning inside of me to appear on the written page.

Meanwhile, those snowy prima donna piles have disappeared, a budding chorus is ready to burst its buttons, and soon novice tips of palest green should timidly reach out to test a line that is just passing through.

Despite changes in scenery, no doubt I will stay at my post as chief cook and window waver, listening for a cue.

The Chopped Wood Blogiversary

DSCN6763

Five years ago this week, emboldened by some success on BlogHer, I hit the publish button to a maiden post on my first blog. I had a vague idea about what my subject matter would be, and of course, posting actual photos for each entry wouldn’t occur to me for another six months or more, but I gradually learned my widgets and minded my stats.

Since then, I have not looked back, but you can in the archives to the right. Considering the variety of categories listed over there, Suburban Satsangs has covered some eclectic ground over the years, and helped me to reconcile the many hats I’ve worn as wife, mother, empty-nester, librarian, gardener, cook, minimalist, photographer, poet, knitter and squirrel wrangler.

And what about those lofty notions from the muddled muse, temperamental truth seeker and lazy New Ager? Well, that my friends will always be a work in progress. With the stars as my guide and nature for my teacher, I’ll never run out of lessons. Or busywork for that matter–you know, the daily act of getting out of bed to fetch water, chop wood.

Ah, but the path to enlightenment is never smooth, particularly when trying to post during a Mercury Retrograde (yes, we’re having another one right now). Still, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

The gratifying part about exposing your foibles to the world in a blog, comes from great folks you meet in the comments and WordPress readers. I am very honored that all of you who stop by, choose to spend precious time reading my wordy whimsies. Thank you so much.

In a few weeks, I hope to show my gratitude by offering to faithful readers a collection of the most popular posts from Suburban Satsangs (preferably after Mercury is on its merry way forward again). Stay tuned, my friends and keep an eye peeled.

The best is yet to come.

The Year of Movement

DSCN7387
My garage door won’t close. When I lower it automatically, the bottom hits the concrete of our driveway raised by frost heave and sensing obstruction, heads back up. If I don’t pay attention closely enough, I might drive away with my house gaping to the world, my interior exposed for scrutiny.

Like some kind of door wrangler, I’ve become adept at hitting my opener at the precise moment to keep the door down and the seal as tight as possible. We’ve stuffed towels in gaps along the sides to prevent another polar vortex from bursting our pipes. And still, when I enter my garage, I feel a frigid breeze on the inside and realize how futile it is to deny the winds of change.

Not wanting to undo our elaborate barricades, the whole family’s been stuck for days. Our cars are imprisoned in the so-called protection of our attached garage, and it’s too dangerously cold to walk anywhere. We each have our own way of dealing with solitary confinement. I look out my dirty windows and judge what goes on outside through the customary glass and filters. Weather forecasts grow bleaker each time I obsessively check my smartphone and supposed friends on impersonal social networks thank lucky stars that their “reality” isn’t mine.

Even a large batch of silly robins who never left are stuck, hunkered down in windbreaks with their pale red breasts puffed out and deathly quiet, hoping for a whiff of spring. Their presence in January mocks my sense of timing. What am I waiting for? Vocation, health, dreams and dinner choices — all glued in frozen molasses to my fears of what might be.

Reflected in the grimy winter window, I recognize my parents’ and grandparents’ reluctance to leave their cold misery for unknown sunnier climes, and realize I am hovering perilously close to that ice age of stagnation.

So, my word for 2014 is MOVEMENT. It starts right now. First, I clean the windows. Then, I develop an exit strategy from all the mental impediments I have carefully crafted over past decades. Road map in hand (my mind doesn’t hear the voices of GPS), I can finally pull away the insulating tape and draft guards against an overactive imagination, freeing my way out to a different future with no guarantees.

And I will not look back to see if the door has reopened or the latch didn’t quite catch, revealing shameful tales of entrapment inside my old interiors. Perhaps someone else can learn from the fearful furniture and ruined reservations I’ve left behind.

There Will Be Chalk Dust

DSCN5349

I’m a big-time smudger. Ever since I was a child who proudly wore her grubby cuffs ringed with graphite, I’ve avoided the crisp-edged side of reality, preferring my world pushed into impressionistic blur across a page.

I like to use my fingers, really get into the grain, smoothing out wrinkles on those foreheads of landscape and still life. And while my sketch pencils need to have sharp wits about them, the pastels should lay out soft as new love.

I favor big sheets of textured paper and a long enough ruler to start out straight before a rip tide of color takes me off to faraway lands, where petals move on a slight breeze and flesh glows with every shade other than the wax of its crayola namesake.

There is no better bliss than the suggestive tint from warm afternoon windows, tunes cranked up a little too loud, a wineglass full of ruby, and time stopping to take a look at what flows from under this dusty hand. Why do I always forget how good this feels once underway, counting back the years I’ve been stalled like some stubborn old man with too many regrets in his pocket to begin again.

None of those sinkholes from the past matter when it is just for you.

A Creative Carol

DSCN5322

For me, true life change is always a cold dive from radical heights, never any soft slides into the lukewarm wading pool of transition. Struck over the head with absolute misery, I am forced to concede inside a prison of my own making, while angels of opportunity do their best to get my attention by waving the keys to my freedom.

What was it this time? Well, I was felled for a month by the worst illness of my life, a stunning combination of hideous head cold, a clutch of bronchitis and then the wicked flu. I never get the flu.

For weeks I wallowed on a rumpled sick bed, watching lives flash before my eyes in between horrendous bouts of coughing, fever and nose blowing. Family came and went, an entire season of holiday celebrations carried on without me, and then the world went back to work in 2013 while I still lingered on the fringes, transparent as Marley’s ghost.

During convalescence, I had plenty of time to review my sins. This kind of plague was clearly a message sent to knock some sense into me. And while 2012 would be considered a productive year, I had somehow run off course in a big way. Over the months, I took an easy path back to old roles, enjoying the quick hit of rescuer, and the heady attention of being needed.

Somehow, I always forget what this costs me.

I looked to others for fresh paths, and found only shoes that didn’t fit. I took a ride back to the past and saw the future. And I didn’t like it much.

If I’d been paying attention along the way, the spirits of tense would have shown me where my first salvation lies. It has been there all along, but I only reach for this life preserver when all other help is refused.

On my knees, with the specter of a life un-lived roughly sketched out in front of me, I’ve finally grasped that first key of opportunity. I admit to being stingy with creativity and a scrooge to my dreams. I confess to throwing myself at the status quo and camouflaging in a cloak of conformity. I let the fear of freedom win.

So, my word for 2013 is CREATE. My fevered walks with what could be have opened many doors to studio, desk, easel, lens, blank page, and the world.  And as I renew my vows to this life, I will practice it all without a mind to results, recognition or an ending.

Only the beginning.

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

The vortex of Bowie. Or the end of my neighbor's PVC pipe. Take your pick, I'm flexible.

One of the worst parts about getting older, I have discovered, is not the gradual deterioration of body parts, the slow numbing of libido, or the downward slide of mental calisthenics, as distressing as all of that is to be sure.

It is the fear of impermanence, instability and nasty surprises. I, who have never blinked an eye over uprooting my household or completely renovating my persona, have been caught unawares.

It has crept up on me like Geritol in the night, smelling of aspercreme and denture adhesive, muffling my adventurous mojo in flannel and lap rugs. I have become stodgy in my habits and constipated about my future.

I am stuck.

So, in the spirit of the One Little Word project seen popping up around the blogosphere, I have chosen a theme for this year. As a caveat, I am well aware that the Universe can and will give you what you ask for. That is the point, after all.

The word? You guessed it.

But the Universe can be a fickle and mischievous mistress, and she favors tricks over plans at life’s cocktail soiree. In other words, I am asking for it.

That is, however timidly, the kind of party game I want to relearn at this point in my journey (notice my reluctance to actually say the word yet?)

Since I’ve already had my emotions pulled out from under me in December, it’s not like the energies need to be put into action. My sense of control light has been blinking uncontrollably for weeks now and I can’t find the manual.

Because there is none.

I like to think I’ve just misplaced it, a mere oversight due to the ever-shrinking menopausal memory, and that I’ll find it stuffed behind the fountain of youth any day now.

However, the one thing I can control is my reception of the one little word for this year. I can either fight it with an arsenal of glam rock wrinkle reducers and Ziggy Stardust age reversals, or I can invite it in for a cup of tea. Have a chat and see which way the wind’s blowing.

Okay, you can’t blame a gal for a little heads up, now can you?

Meanwhile, I’m renovating the attitude and putting my spiritual house in order. A little preparation won’t hurt.

And, you might notice that this blog looks a little different. It’s small change, but a step toward nonetheless.