Gratuitous Color Shot # 10: Rorschach test

There’ve been times in my life when I’ve taken others’ beliefs about me—good or bad—way too much to heart. Sure, well-adjusted people say it’s a waste of emotional energy to try to stay up on a perceptional pedestal or climb out of its flip side: the pit. But who would I be if I couldn’t tie myself in knots over things I can’t control?

Gradually, however, I’ve learned that it behooves me to stop, look, and listen when a new perspective arrives on the scene.

And having received an A+ in Advanced Narcissism 439, I’ve discovered that turning outward can actually help me can process faster than inward reflection. So I find an object or view with a lot of contrasts and start with broad black/white questions like:

  • Is the landscaping upstaging the mosaic or softening its jagged shapes?
  • Are the matte stone slabs depressingly drab or a charming counterpoint to the bursts of color?
  • Does the house’s paint scheme undercut the fountain’s design or help create an integrated whole?

A balanced mix of natural and artificial, of straight and curved, of bold and quiet…or is it?

With my own preferences established, I then try to explore the nuances and possibilities. Maybe the wayward Euphorbia would be less attention-grabbing if staked up a bit. Perhaps the stone slabs could try a stain. Potentially the under-porch lattice could benefit from soft plantings.

Or possibly everything is fine just as it is; possibly it’s once again the disparate parts that make the complicated whole function.

Of course such intellectual exercises are all well and good, but the question remains: what happens when our own beliefs run smack up against outsiders’ opinions of us?

Me, I’m demanding the right to reject those perspectives without penalty—and accepting that I have a responsibility not to hold others’ reactions against them. [I find the first delightfully freeing and the latter tedious, but fair is fair.]

From there? Che sarà, sarà (or as Ms Doris Day sang: que sera, sera)….

Awww Ya Big Lug Boots

Last winter, I justified buying two new pairs of boots by telling myself several things about my existing, beloved pair—that I was tired of wearing them; that given their age, replacing worn soles didn’t make financial sense; that their once-plush cushioning was MIA.

That last bit was true, but the other points…well, it turns out the other points had merit but not meat.

Which meant that instead of running about devil-may-caring with my fresh boots, I couldn’t stop longing for my more battered pair. Maddening!

Every time I slogged gingerly through wet leaves, I recalled my former boots’ hearty tread; the second my toes shivered or registered a bump in the pavement, I pined for their well-insulated chamber. Not 10 months ago I’d seen a verdant shimmering in the distance and purchased accordingly, so why was the grass looking so very, very chestnut here on my chosen side of the fence?

Turns out I missed my old boots, and I missed them bad.

It’s not that my newer footwear was a complete loss, of course; as we entered our second season together, I was wearing each pair of my Millennial Generation boots several times a week. But as my discarded pals sat in an out-of-the-way closet, awaiting their (belated) disposal, I became more and more sentimental.

Because as someone who’d started paying attention to my visual presentation quite late in the game, the boots—my first well-constructed knee-high coverings—had been a gauntlet thrown down against a long-time friend’s sadly accurate assessment of my style as “black, baggy, and covered in cat hair.” Compared to what I’d been wearing on my feet, they were chock full of swashbuckling sass.

And up until I’d banished them to the closet last winter, the boots had kept me company on pedestrian commutes, weekend wanderings, and not-frequent-enough vacations where I trod up, down, and all around. To think I’d almost sent them back because the frivolity of their left side/right side zippers initially made me nervous!

[Fortunately, I’m a Gemini: since it makes me uneasy to shun multiplicity, the boots stayed. The duplicate, half-size up pair I’d ordered to help assess fit arrived with 2 left feet; as a clutzy person I suppose I should’ve taken that as a sign and hesitated to shun them, too, but shun I did.]

When it came right down to it, I still loved my “mature” boots—and still beholded them as gorgeous even if their supple leather was a bit worn in spots. Granted their interior’s plushness had deteriorated over time, but I could and WOULD try harder to cozy them up.

So a few weeks ago I sheepishly hauled them in for their 4th annual re-heeling…and a more elaborate surgical intervention. I’m almost embarrassed to admit how excited I was to see the soles I’d wore down with activities mundane and invigorating completely renewed and grippy:

I wavered for a year, but how could I fail to put new soles on the double-zippered boots that have gone through so much with me?


I celebrated the footlift by shoving better-than-last-year’s aftermarket gel pads into them and breaking a bottle of champagne over their arches. Only the best for my buddies!

Don’t get me wrong: just because the Vibram soles are the same brand as the ones on my hiking boots, sometimes I have to pick the hiking boots.

Yes, technically my hiking boots have MORE of a lug sole than my beloved boots (but they are both Vibram)

But when I’m traveling, I find my old standbys allow me to cover almost any kind of terrain where walking plays a big role.

The boots were a key part of my walking-centric 40th birthday trip...

...and have trod miles in cities and small towns...

...happily taking me over grass and dirt

Though when things move from “just plain walking” to “walking without killing oneself,” it’s back to the hiking boots. And crossing my fingers.

Though I have to admit my black boots aren't magical: in certain situations, I'm back in sturdier footwear

Since I’m prone to restlessness and dissatisfaction and boredom, but also someone who enjoys many of the ties to my past, I guess I need to be less cavalier about old favorites when searching for something new. By the time my boots’ tread wears out again I’m hoping that perhaps—just perhaps—I’ll have mastered the art of escaping the ruts, but rejoicing in the grooves.

Gratuitous Color Shot #4: Horton in the house

Lately my time has been occupied with a mix of superficial + potentially life-course-altering tasks, tasks which are helping to distract me from simmering extended-family issues over which I have approximately zero control.

Of course by “distract” I mean “tip my stress management meter reading from ‘Handling’ to ‘Expressing Overload Via Bizarre Minor Health Situations That Generate Eyerolls.'”

I swear I’m putting a lot of effort into stepping back, but really: what’s the protocol when the proverbial elephant moseys into one’s living room and can’t get everyone’s full attention? Besides hope the the elephant is pink, and thus an accepted marker of drunken hallucination.

[Except when it’s an even more tangible sign of HEY, OVER HERE!]

Hallucinating BIG pink elephants or crossing paths with Seattle signage?


Though the rosy-colored variety gets a bad rap in Western culture, bog-standard elephants represent many wonderful things in their native lands: faithfulness, intelligence, strength, wisdom, endurance, memory, prosperity, sexual vigor….

All those enviable qualities certainly come in a large, hard-to-miss package, though. Maybe those of us who are waiting not-so-patiently for others to see the room is rather crowded need to take a deep breath—or twelve—and throw tons of effort into channeling the metaphorical guest.

Salad, anyone?


Recently, I ended up less relaxed after a semi-vacation than I was before I left. It’s sure great to have such a knack for doing things ass-backwards!

Revised goals: stop wringing myself out like an old dishrag over things I can’t control, adopt a zoot suit swagger, and give self-doubt the stink eye.

Let’s say I get to cross everything off my list—now wouldn’t that be a gas?

…when feeling ho-hum, it’s relatively simple to get inspired by those who bring a little devil-may-care flair to less outspoken environments…

(top to bottom: Making a statement in Santa Rosa’s only historic ethnic/working class neighborhood; street-side chess in Sebastopol; dusk brings sexy swirls to a low-key Santa Rosa street; in Northern California, a homeowner’s glowing peaches brighten a sidewalk stroll; a gorgeous 40’s era Buick 8 convertible finds a shady spot to view Sonoma Plaza Park)

No more monkeys jumping on the bed

Coming from a long line of jesus mary and joseph get to the point storytellers basically means I am screwed when it comes to thinking in logical and precise ways.

And because logic and precision have always had top-notch PR people, cultures have been only too happy to swag them in laurel wreaths or make them the center of multi-day feasts or throw them televised extravaganzas.

But come on: if it’s not a case of putting things together (brains, buildings, transportation devices) or taking them apart (bombs), can’t we all agree that a little slapdashedness and meandering can be a beautiful thing?

And likewise, can’t we all agree that A LOT of slapdashedness and meandering will cause most to gnash and rend?

I hope so.

Because then I can take you with me the next time I go off to see family. I will stack us like a vegetable display, I will hand out Gorgon-bedecked shields, I will chirp “let smiles be our umbrellas!” when hope’s cinders start raining down.