Manchester, Ky. July 22, 2019
So the strangest thing happened to me yesterday. I died. Sort of. Or at least I think I might have almost tried to. (I’ll explain.)
So I was lying on the couch, fairly exhausted after returning from Manchester, Kentucky, to find Josh’s childhood home- and the apartment where his mother was murdered. I’ll touch on that later. So I had been watching my beloved Egyptian and Roman history documentaries, when I drifted off into blissful sleep. (The kind of which you don’t remember drifting off at all.)
Next think I knew, I had “come to” in a dark, circular room- like a circus tent. I couldn’t make out any edges. I sort of was just there. It was a bit creepy. And to make it even more creepy, I was completely lucid. I knew I was “dreaming”, or at least I thought it was a dream. (I used quotation marks because I know the difference between a dream and being out of one’s body. This sure seemed to be the latter of the two.)
It’s been a few years since I’ve dealt with floating out of my body. When I was a teenager, it began happening more and more and it got to a point where I could simply push with my mind while holding my hands up (like Superwoman) and I immediately was flying at what seemed like hundreds of miles per hour. It’s super fun at times, but more times than not, it’s scary as hell. One of the best times was when I was flying over a forest and could control my direction, and one of the worst times was when I was sitting in a movie theater, surrounded by occupants. Every now and then a person would look over at me. This became more frequent until most everyone in the place was looking at me, simultaneously. If you don’t think that’s creepy AF, I promise, it is.
I knew I needed to get the crap out of there so I stood up and when I turned toward the door, I began to fly- super fast- with my arms outstretched. I was flying down a hall, when I turned around to see all of the people (who were actually vampires, and I knew it then) were close behind me- flying after me. I saw a window at the end of the hall and flew right through it- despite it being closed. I escaped, thankfully. Anyway, these are just a few examples of my lucid “dreams”.
Lately, I’ve been slipping out of my body and into vacant, dimly-lit buildings. It’s so crazy! I’ll suddenly “come to” in my consciousness of being there, and I’ll recognize that I need to wake up. So, I try to find the exit door and can’t. I wander around here and there for what seems like 20 or 30 minutes. Lucid dream time is the same as real time. It’s not speeded up or slowed down, but exactly the same as if you were there IRL.
So after wandering around, meandering about, I start to get bored. Nothing’s happening and it still hasn’t dawned on me that I need to wake myself up- myself. As that realization comes to me (after a while), I know I need to “push” with my mind and concentrate and then I usually wake up after doing so.
Back to yesterday. So, not unlike most other times, I “came to” in this dark, circular room. I perceived that I was alone. Something was off though, and after trying to open my eyes completely, I realized that my right eye was stuck. This had never happened before. I moved my face around, trying to force open both eyes widely. Nada. I couldn’t figure out why my right eye wouldn’t open!
Suddenly. I became aware of a presence in the room with me. I saw a glowing form in the center of the room, but I was too scared to look at it. I told myself that if I looked away, it wouldn’t materialize. (It worked.) But shortly afterward, a male voice called out from the direction of the form and said, “Whatever…”, somewhat malevolently.
That did it for me! I knew that sometimes I needed to move around and shake myself in order to wake myself up, and so I jumped up and down 3 or 4 times. Weirdly though, my feet weren’t on the ground. I was floating and when I jumped, I was moving really fast, like super fast. It seemed that I was in spirit form. It didn’t work and I began to realize that I was stuck in this place- with a hyper-awareness of my consciousness and situation. It was extremely unsettling.
I began to think that maybe I was dead. Maybe I had died in my sleep. I remember having the overwhelming feeling that there was a whole lot more darkness in front of me, in that direction, and around me to the left and right. But I remember having the acknowledgement that “light”, and life itself, was behind me. As in, proximally. I needed to get back to the light! I couldn’t turn around (physically) and was just stuck there, with my right eye sealed, thinking I was dead, but wanting terribly to get back to my life. I had an overwhelming feeling of being alone; like I would never see my loved ones again. I tried jumping again, and focusing on trying to find a way back.
Not too much time had passed when I became aware that I was lying sideways, but I couldn’t see, and both eyes were shut now. I was lifted upward, as if I was floating, upward and then floated backwards and down, as if a wind had blown me up and back in and down again. I could literally feel my spirit going back into my body. Needless to say, it was not fun! I opened my eyes, so very thankful to be back again. Back to the land of the living! I thought about what had happened and realized that what had actually happened was that I had left my body- partially- only my left side had moved out and my right side (around my eye, in particular) was still very much in my body, which would explain why my right eye felt sealed shut. I’ll be happy to never experience that freaky situation again. It really is quite terrifying.
Basic Update: Josh and I are doing really well. I’ve been away from my blog here for so long, with only the periodic update several times per year. Things were really hard between Josh and I when I was still active here, and then I had some heartbreaking situations with one of my daughters that I couldn’t write about- I had to stay very quiet and low-key. Then my little brother died. I was slammed pretty hard, and it was relentless for a while. I’m finally in a good place again and Josh and I have grown so much closer over the past year.
I love that man with a love that is beyond this world. He’s my heart and my very life. Fourteen years is a long time to be in somebody’s life! We’ve grown up together, and love the life that we’ve built together. He’s grown his beard out all shaggy. He’s such a hippy. 🙂
My Baby- Headed to Manchester.
So we decided to take a trip over this past weekend. It was a spontaneous decision. We were thinking about going to a recording studio and checking out where we might begin recording our music together. He had mentioned going back to his childhood home, in Manchester, Kentucky, to seek out his childhood home, and the home that his mom was murdered in.
She had been in an abusive relationship with a guy named Abe. He was the manager at the apartment complex. They began dating, and he began physically abusing her. Josh was only 7 when she decided to take her two kids and leave. Abe had other plans. He cut the phone lines to the entire apartment complex so she couldn’t call for help and then “accidentally shot and killed her when he was cleaning his gun”.
I can’t begin to list the many ways in which her death has affected Josh’s life. I never knew her, but as a woman, I feel that I owe it to her to give him the love and protection and goodness that he deserves. Every now and then she’ll cross my mind, and I’ll go and give Josh a hug- for her. (I usually don’t tell him that it’s for her. I’d want somebody to do that for my son if I were gone though.)
As for my schooling, despite my many obstacles lately, I’m still chugging away at this Master’s degree (Psychology and Addiction Counseling). It hasn’t been easy, but by golly, I carry on. I only have two more classes left after this one, which is Psychopharmacology for Counselors. Good stuff. 🙂
Until we meet again. XoXoxOxO
Manchester, Ky. Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon 35/2.8 film lens
There’s a reason I chose the username Monochromejunkie: It’s because I’m obsessed with black and white photography. To me, nothing is more beautiful than a bold black and white image with heavy, dark blacks and stark whites. These days, people are so used to simply slapping a filter on something or doing a quick and easy B&W conversion.
it takes a well-trained eye to look out upon a landscape or street scene and be able to convert that over to a B&W in your mind and truly “see” a black and white. Because reds, greens, and blues all convert into various shades of black, white, and grey, you need to know what would truly make a good black and white, because not every scene does.
This past year, I’ve been in a photographic funk and sorely uninspired. 2018 was one of the hardest years of my life. So many troubles with some of my children and their private struggles, along with the death of close friends and loved ones. It really kicked me in the teeth and that alone can kill your passion for your art.
After coming back to my blog and writing again, I rediscovered my friend Gav’s black and white photography. He’s an excellent street photographer, but what he’s really good at, more so than anyone else I’ve ever known, is staying in black and white mode. Nevertheless, year after year, he continues shooting in black and white and never seems to grow bored with it.
Seeing his beautiful black and whites have woken up my first love: black and white photography. I’ve wanted to shoot in B&W mode (only) for a year straight- for a long time, but never had the courage to take that plunge. I know though, that if I don’t do that, then I’ll never commit. And if I don’t commit to truly knowing the ins and outs of black and white and really learning it, then I never will grow as a photographer and artist to the degree that I want to.
I’ve decided to finally take the plunge! I’m putting my camera in monochrome mode and leaving it there for an entire year. It actually began yesterday, so until March 8th of 2020, I’ll be shooting in nothing but black and white. This way, rather than focusing on various colours, I can keep my focus on lighting and exposure. So Gav, if you’re reading this, thank you! You’ve been a major inspiration and have woken up my love of black and white again. It’s not for everybody. But for people like us, it’s what drives us.
I took these yesterday, at Sellersburg park (Indiana) while taking Chance and Diamond on our mile walk. Just as we were getting ready to leave, it started snowing. That was a nice touch. 🙂 (These are basically SOOTC/straight out of the camera.)
A new bud gets its first taste of the snow. Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon 35-2.8
For the first time in many months, I’m behind in my work. My large-ish assignment was due yesterday evening, but when I awoke from my deep slumber, it was 41 degrees in my house. I could almost see my breath. I huddled under my (Egyptian cotton) flannel sheets, like I was in a tee-pee, and texted my professor on my cell phone. There’s no way I can work in those conditions. She’s amazingly supportive, so she afforded me as much time as I’d like.
I had a good run for a while without my 3 day migraines. There were times when I didn’t get one for months in a row. But recently, they’ve been visiting me more often. And when I say visiting, I mean like a drunken husband that grabs you by the throat and slings you around mercilessly for 72 hours, incessantly. Now try to imagine that, truly, and now try to imagine eating a sandwich while that’s going on…or sleeping at all. Right.
Last week, I could feel some very unusual hairline fracture pain, coursing through my cranium. It feels like it’s the diameter of a hair. So tiny and thin, but so brutal in nature. It’s savage. One minute, all is well, calm, and peaceful. The next moment, I’m gripped in electrifying pain that quite literally takes my breath immediately. All I can do is squeeze my eyes tightly together, and cringe, as I wait for the moment to pass. This is nothing like my usual migraines. I’m used to a specific course of actions. This is all new territory.
Luke Perry just died from a massive stroke. No warning of any kind. That’s terrifying! He complained of head pain, and was taken in to the E.R. He was heavily sedated so the physicians could try and get the attack under control. For several days he lay there, sedated, surrounded by his loved ones. And then he slipped away- never to return again.
When I think about that, and then I think about just how many 3 day migraines I’ve endured, which is accompanied by blurred vision and slurred speech, and tingling in my left hand and arm, I wonder just how much time is left on my clock. I can’t help but think about death. When you feel like you’re living on borrowed breath, believe me, you think about death just as much, if not more, than you think about life.
People are ridiculous. They think they have all the time in the world, and they carry grudges and choose to not forgive others. All of that anger means absolutely nothing in the end! It’s all wasted energy. Useless. It serves the ego only. There’s no reward there. And it’s a fool’s meal and they eat it up with every angry chomp!
It’s sad, really. And it’s funny how, some people would rather stop talking to you altogether than simply say, “I’m sorry. I was wrong.” And that’s a tragedy.
As for me, there’s no one person in the world who I wouldn’t feed or clothe or hug tightly if they showed up on my doorstep. I’ve been tried already in the fires of hell itself. It wasn’t always easy, but I chose to forgive. I forgave every single person who ever wronged, hurt, or abused me. Not only did I forgive them, I chose to love them too. I CAN back up my words with a long history of action. Unfortunately, the ones who’ve turned their backs on me cannot say the same. They have no idea how to swallow their pride and choose love over anger. I pray that God will find them in the Way before it’s too late. because we all are only given so much time, and then we don’t get any more time to try and make things better.
Today one of the greatest things happened to me. I was called to my son and daughter-in-law’s house as they had some news they wanted to share with me. When Josh and I got there, my son’s sweet little gal showed me her pregnancy test, and it was positive! I’m going to finally be a grandmother! Oh happy day! I’ve had to sit silently in the shadows of all of my friends, as they post pics of themselves with their grandkids. I’ve always felt like Queen Elizabeth, but not in a royal way. She was known as the “Virgin Queen” (and that’s a total farce, because she was a trifling ho, actually, who even had her lover’s wife murdered so she could have him- Robert Dudley- all to herself. That’s how big her ego was.) But no, I always felt like the “Virgin Grandma”. But no longer! 🙂
And so after some thought, Josh had a good laugh and suggested “Gam Gam” for my royal title, and then Gabbie chuckled too and sanctioned it, officially. So, yes, I will soon be known as Gam Gam. I love it. 🙂
It feels good to be editing again. I edited a pic of my son, brian, and his gal, Gabbie, from our trip to the Smoky Mountains, in Gatlinburg, Tennessee on Thanksgiving of last year. It was shot in colour, but I did some work on it- cleaned it up in Photoshop- as well as did some contrast and gamma adjustments and mixed the exposure- midtones/shadows/and highlights. I added some grain (which I adore) and hit it with a gaussian blur + selective unsharp mask and mastered the overall RGB curves, then each channel individually, aaaaaand mixed the colour balance channels, individually- shadows, midtones, and highlights there as well.
You may think when you see a pic of mine that I hit one or two tabs to edit it in post processing- like most everybody does these days on their phones- ha. If you only knew. Many of my photos are usually a combination of 15+ channels, mixed, blended, erased, flattened (wash, rinse, repeat 5 or 10 more times) so by the end, it’s entirely mastered in practically every area. I make it look easy, but I’ve had a good 15 years at this now.
Brian & Gabbie- Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon 35/2.8 vintage film lens/Canon Rebel t3i
The most beautiful rain is falling outside right now. I awoke an hour or so ago to the rain falling on my tin roof in a most beautiful enveloping wall of sound. The rain is my favourite thing ever because I feel like God is corralling me off. It satisfies the intense hermit in me that wants to shut my door and windows and seal off the world. The rain says it’s ok to slow it all down to a crawl and not have to be bothered with the things outside my door. The rain sings a most beautiful song. 🙂
I suppose as I grow older (am I really going to be 50 this fall?!), I’m giving in more to my hidden persona; the Jane Goodall-like hippie that wants nothing more than to spend the entire day in the forest, taking macros of little things in their little worlds- up close. I can’t believe I’ve been in school for an entire decade now! I’m so ready to be finished with it all so I can finally- finally- focus on my art, photography, and music. I’m looking forward to closing the books once and for all (along with my many, MANY research papers) and buy an Epson professional printer and set up a small area of our new home (to be, soon); a proper print shop.
It’s going to take a lot of dedication and time, but I’m so looking forward to it. I’ll be afforded the luxury- after school- of not having to work. Even for several years, or never at all, if I want. I can stay home and go out and about and take all the pics I want- go where I like, and do virtually anything I want. When I’m ready, I can put on that periwinkle suit and Addiction Counselor hat (if I so choose) and make my mark on the world as a counselor. But first, I’ll explore my art. It’s an exciting thing to be able to wake up early in the morning and head out with my camera and collection of vintage film lenses in my Nat. Geo. bag. People who aren’t photographers probably don’t get it.
It’s such a rush to be able to go out into the world and see what only I can see. I can shape my perspective in a unique way and be a storyteller without words. To lay in the plush green mossy ground on the forest floor in the warm, afternoon sunshine and spend hours focusing my lens on tiny little things on leaves. I’m a visitor in their world. It’s an incredible thing to be able to make the tiniest corner of a leaf come into focus, making the rest of the leaf the size of a house, by comparison. Ants become giants and mushrooms- stadiums. It’s exhilarating!
But the real rush is taking the loot home and going through all of the images: Sizing up what stays or what gets tossed out. Whittling the pile down until only a few remaining “money shots” remain and those are the ones which will be edited and post processed. A full day’s shoot- and many hours- for 3 or 4 shots in the end. It’s the experience of it all, from loading up the bag to editing the chosen few to submitting or uploading the shots. And it’s all free! You really can’t beat that. It’s therapy. Photo-therapy at its finest.
Although my latest course Addiction Counseling and Families essentially began yesterday, my Discussion Board posts aren’t due until Thursday. Ever the procrastinator, I think I’ll spend the day lounging in my insanely plush (new) pillow top queen bed (that I um…bought Josh for Christmas. That’s right…it’s all for him! 🙂 ) and edit a new batch of pics from our Thanksgiving trip in the Smokey Mountains. Yes, my life ha been so busy and crazy that I’m only now getting around to editing my Thanksgiving shots from 2018!
Despite having 6 vintage (imported) Bulgarian and Romanian film lenses, only the Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon 35/2.8 (my favourite lens ever) was used- throughout the entire trip. It never left my camera. These are two of many I’ll be editing over the next few days:
Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon 35/2.8 film lens (Canon Rebel t3i) – An interesting tree I found on the way up to Clingmans Dome, in Smoky Mountain National Park, in southeastern Tennessee and North Carolina, U.S.
This one is Josh’s. (His capture, my edit.) The Appalachian Trail sign at the base of Clingmans Dome in the Smokies. Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon film lens 35/2.8- Canon Rebel t3i
I feel like I’ve finally turned a corner. Tomorrow makes a whole month that my little brother has been gone. I’m so comforted by the fact that he’s in Heaven with my Dad, my Pastor (Rev. Hicks), and my grandparents. The first few weeks were absolutely brutal, but I’m feeling life again. I’m allowing myself to laugh again. Death is part of life, after all.
Soon, it’ll be a new season. Josh and I will be moving into a new house, leaving this place behind. I’m so ready for a new start; a new beginning. My kids are all grown and have flown the coop. I’m still studying, and as I mentioned not long ago, I have a year or so left and I’ll have my Master’s in Psychology and Addiction Counseling. This degree has not been easy! I’ve had to do continual research and writing 7-10 long page research papers weekly. It’s hard to stay motivated sometimes, but I push on. I’ve been in college for ten straight years! It’s so hard to believe. After I graduate, I’ll take a couple of years off. Maybe do a bit of traveling. Maybe write that memoir, finally.
For now, I’ll continue playing my adventure games during my 2 week break from school. Josh and I recently bought our HTC VIVE/virtual reality headset. My laptop is an HP Omen- it’s already VR-ready. I just finished the game Lone Echo- made for Oculus (Rift) but I “revived” it so I could play it on my Vive. It was an awesome game. 🙂 “Red Matter” is next on my list. (Currently playing “Before the Storm” again, after replaying “Life is Strange” again.) Nothing new to report. Perhaps I’ll go on a photoshoot in the next few days and throw some new pics up. “Photo Therapy”. ❤
Carl Zeiss Jena Flekton 35/2.8 Clingman’s Dome- Smokey Mountain State Park- Tennessee- Thanksgiving 2018
It’s 3:30 a.m. and I’m watching The Dark Crystal and thinking about nabbing another bowl of Pistachio Almond Ice cream. Party for one. 🙂
I’m in a particularly jovial mood- a bit celebratory. For weeks, I’d been super depressed- lost in the post-breakup haze that always accompanies splitting up with the mate. I knew I would have my bad days here or there, but I didn’t anticipate that it would be so bad. My heart was just wrecked.
Two days ago, in the twilight hours of pre-dawn, I fell on the bedroom floor and just wailed. I hadn’t let myself cry after Josh left (except for once) and finally, the damn burst; I couldn’t hold it in any longer. I cried and cried and prayed and really just got all of the ick out. I read Isaiah 26 (out loud) and really felt the Lord there in the room with me. After I anointed myself and finished reading the Bible, the cloud passed over me; I could feel it lifting physically, not just in my spirit, and afterwards I felt so light. The chains fell off of me and it’s been that way since. The heartbreak and sorrow were just too heavy for me and I knew that I wouldn’t make any type of progress until I let it all out, and let it all go.
So I did. It’s funny…to the hungry, desperate soul, even bitterness is sweet, and I was just soooo desperate to feel Jesus’ love. My heart has been restocked with sweet love and I feel a warm glow swimming around inside.
I have one of these too. >>>>>>> 🙂
Oh…and these little guys don’t hurt either:
We have two new housemates! Our dog, Chance, is crazy about them: He gives them baths and is a great guard dog. Brianna named the male kitty Virgil (from Dante’s Inferno), and Brian named the female Do Re Mi Fa So La To Do, but we call her Doey for short.
They’re absolutely adorable and I’m madly in love with them.
(Time to hit the hay.)
night morning, world.
“With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early.” -Isaiah 26: 9
…who are just finishing up your semesters- students and teachers alike- congratz to you!
And although I’m bowing out of the academic race to pursue my photography/art, I do hope that each of you continues to do well in your studies and teachings. All of my final grades are in and it’s going to be a close call, but I think I might’ve made the Dean’s List. More on that later.
Maggie, congratzs to you, and Y, you too. WE DID IT. 🙂
So Josh and I decided that we would spend the afternoon out doing something spontaneous and adventurous. Before I became a school drone, I used to go out and take pictures of abandoned buildings (and get cussed at and threatened and lots of times the police were involved) and stuff. So, we wanted to go and do new things today. The weather was absolutely stunning and what better place to go than to a winery in the country?
It was a bit past five and they closed at six so we blazed a path to Huber’s Orchard. This story just wouldn’t be typical if some type of cussing weren’t involved- that’s usually what happens when you’re minding your own business with your camera. Josh and I had bought two bottles of fresh wine: Peach, and Catawba Rose (the latter being our favourite). So we’d had a small cup each, and I parked my car on the side of the pumpkin patch and hopped out for a quick shot as we were leaving. I walked over to the edge of the road- close to our Rodeo/vehicle- and laid down on my belly to get a worm’s eye view of a bashed open pumpkin. Lo and behold, just above my camera view, a hayride truck was coming our way and I pointed my camera toward it as it approached us for a quick shot.
The driver yells at me, “The field is closed!” He’d slowed down to a complete stop with 15 people or so, all sitting on the back. He thought I was picking pumpkins. So I hopped up (literally, I hopped) and hopped again 3 big leaps (like a bunny rabbit) over to the actual road, and yelled, “I’m not in the field now!” I was actually laughing because I thought it was all a bit silly.
He looked at me, sort of quizzically, and drove off. That should’ve been the end of that. I wasn’t breaking any rules. But no. No. No. No. A sassy-mouthed broad had to say- loud enough for me to here her- “I would have to slap that girl.”
And so I flipped her off (naturally) and replied, “Here ya go, slap that!”
And that was the end of that.
But here’s some pics from the rest of the afternoon: warm country air, a lazy Sunday afternoon, a really beautiful man and some good fall wine. It really doesn’t get much better. 🙂
Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon 35/2.8 film lens/natural lighting/Canon Rebel XSI