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Feeling Fallish!

Boston has been spectacular so far!

My laptop, however, is not well … at all.

I have an Apple Genius appointment made for next Tuesday when I return.  In the meantime, I've been unable to upload and/or access most of my photos.  Sometimes I can get into certain programs (like the one I use to write to you), and sometimes I can't.  

It's extremely frustrating – especially since I'm not at home and don't have time to deal with it while I'm here. 

I'll try to get posts up whenever I can, but if I'm absent you'll know it's due to *&$% technical difficulties.

So …

I haven't stopped for more than a minute since I've been here.  I have so much to tell you about – beautiful trees, crisp fall weather, witches and graveyards in the town of Salem, amazing food, amazing blisters (!!) from walking miles upon miles upon miles.

My arm is (of course) in a pain flare-up, as it always is when I travel.

It's pretty bad.

The good news is – I've had worse flare-ups and I'm doing my best to keep this one from sending me completely over the edge.  (If it's worse today, I'll begin the "emergency" steroids I have with me.)

Weather-wise …

I'm not freezing – but it does get pretty damn cold when the wind whips up.

And at night.

And in the morning.

It's fun though.

Boston has so much charm.

The trees are beautiful!

(Boston itself is still green, but the trees outside of the city are GORGEOUS.)

The city, at night, takes my breath away.

I'm taking a lot of photos, even though I can't upload them yet due to my computer technical difficulties.

I feel so fallish because it's SO fallish here.

Fall_2-1
Fall in a basket.

I can't wait to tell you more about this trip,

And share photos too!

Hang in there with me –

In a few days my laptop will be fixed or I'll be forced to get a new one!

(May the Computer Gods have mercy!)

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Boston Arrival

Sheesh, it's a long trip from Orange County, to LAX airport, to Boston's Logan International airport, to my daughter's place!

Especially, by the way, when you have an insane taxi driver who can't speak, communicates in evil grunts, and drives his cab with all the windows down (brrrr!!) at night – hoping you don't notice the overpowering smell of URINE in his cab.

Ugh!

I just got here, so here's a photo from last time I visited Boston:

Beacon-1
Beacon Street, Boston, MA

I'll have more for you soon!

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Airport Security? Here I Come

Airport security poses unique challenges for a Bionic Woman such as myself.

(If you're a new reader …  Well, I'm full of metal, and electrodes, and wires, and other not-friendly-to-airport-security parts.)

You would think, with modern medicine being what it is, the TSA folks would be accustom to dealing with people who can't go through metal detectors.

You would think.

Last summer, when I went to Hawaii, I learned that's not the case.  I allowed lots (!!) of extra time, knowing my bionic body might cause a delay.  Trust me, I'm an uneasy flyer, I want air-tight security on my flights.

Still, I couldn't have imagined the scenario which took place:

Please step ahead through the metal detector.

I can't, I'll set it off.  (Said with my medical device identification card in my hand.)

Please step to the side then and raise both arms above your head.

I can't raise my arm above my head.

Then you have to walk through the metal detector.

I can't, I'll set it off.  (Said with my medical device identification card in my hand.)

Please walk through the metal detector.

I walk through the metal detector.  

* Alarms clang. *

TSA man rolls his eyes.

Please step to the side and raise both arms above your head.

I can't raise my arm above my head.

TSA man rolls his eyes again.

Please step to the side.  You'll have to wait for a female office to conduct a strip search pat down.

A call is placed requesting a female officer.

I wait.

I wait some more.

No female officer is anywhere in sight.

Time passes.

And passes.

Eventually, a second call is placed requesting a female officer.

The clock is ticking toward my departure time.

I wait some more.

A female officer eventually approaches.

Please step this way and place your feet on the pads as shown below.  Since you prefer a body search, I will be touching your breasts and putting my hand down your pants.

I don't *prefer* a body search, I have medical devices which set off the metal detectors.

Oh.

Let me explain how I'm about to violate you.  Blah, blah, blah.  And now I'm going to touch your breasts.  And now I'm going to touch your crotch.  And now I'd like to pull the waistband of your pants out so I can put my hand down your pants.

Um, thank you?

Please raise your right arm for me.

I can't.

Explain to me why you can't raise your arm.

My arm was disabled in a car accident.  I have medical devices implanted in my arm and shoulder.  

Really?  (Genuine interest) That's very interesting!  I've never heard of that before.  How does that work?

Ma'am I'd love to spend another twenty minutes explaining it to you, but you've already delayed me substantially and I'm going to miss my flight.

Oh, well – you can go then.  (Said regretfully)

© Twenty Four At Heart

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So Can She Write a Blog Post While on Drugs?

Hi!

My name is Suzanne.

Many people know me as Twenty Four and/or Twenty Four At Heart.

I'm being forced to take drugs in the form of pain patches.

I've been reassured they won't make me into a heroin addict.

I'm not sure if I believe that.  

I still have concerns.

If I become a heroin addict, it's NOT my fault.

OK then …

So far, I feel okay on the Fentanyl Patches.

I'm starting with a low dose patch and supposedly going up in dosage in a few weeks.  I get occasional waves of dizzy-fuzzy head, but feel normal most of the time.  Feeling normal is a good thing, right?  I did feel verrrry sleepy for awhile yesterday afternoon, but supposedly I'll get used to this drug in time.

The pain is still very vivid at times, but less intense at other times.  I have "breakthrough" pain drugs I can take, but I'm trying not to.  I'm trying to see if I can handle a day or two with only the pain patches.  It hasn't even been 24 hours yet ….

I have noticed I'm all of a sudden getting hot flashes.  (No, I haven't begun menopause and no, I don't normally get them!)  I'm assuming the hot flashes are from the pain patch?

We'll see.

So –

Yesterday I went shopping for a few things for my upcoming trip to Brrrrr-Boston.

I looked at some pretty coats but they cost $800-$1000!

I'm sure there are cheaper coats, but the expensive ones were right in front of me.

I didn't buy one.

I'm so glad I don't have to buy coats … more money to save for lenses, ya know?

I did buy two pairs of Gap skinny jeans – one dark jean wash and one black.  They'll tuck into the boots I already own much better than regular jeans.

I also found a cute cream colored "shawl sweater" on sale at the Gap for $35.

It looks sort of like this one, but with longer sleeves:

Gp850540-01qlv01
Shawl sweater.

I think it will look cute with jeans, boots, a scarf … and oh yes, I suppose a shirt of some kind.  Hopefully it will keep me warm enough?

Wouldn't it be funny if I forgot the shirt and just walked around the east coast with a sweater and scarf?

I don't want to spend money on clothes I won't be able to wear here in Southern California.  Right now weather predictions are for 50s to low 60s F (13-14C) while I'm in Boston.  That's positively bone chilling by my standards, but I think I can just layer up while I'm there.  I might wear four shirts at one time and look very rolly-polly, but ….

I've also found a camera roller bag that looks ideal for use around The OC, and also is a perfect carry on size for travel.  Most of the roller camera bags I've found don't have a laptop compartment and I NEED to take a laptop with me when I travel.  (Obviously, if I'm shooting locally, my laptop can stay at home.)

The Lowepro Attache 50x bag appears (online) to be the best at potentially meeting my needs.  If you have any interest in a carry-on size bag on rollers, you might be interested in watching the video on how this bag works. Unfortunately, I don't think I'll have time to get my hands on one prior to leaving on my upcoming trip.  (I checked already and no local stores seem to have this bag in stock.)

Also?

Camera bags are outrageously expensive, including this particular one.

I can hear Briefcase swearing already and I'm only thinking about buying one.

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Giving In, Or Getting Smarter?

Sigh …

Yesterday I had an appointment with Dr. Painless.

On the way to see him, in the elevator, I used my iPhone for a self portrait:

Elevator-1
Self portrait taken in elevator.

I took this photo as a joke, due to my deep and abiding love for Lotus Carroll.  I actually kind of like it because it's blurry enough, you can't really see me.

My cleavage was an unexpected bonus, but then – it usually is.

By the way, if you aren't following Lotus on G+ – you should be.  She's a blogger, a photographer, a NICE person and a rising star in an often bleak world.

Awhile later, I was waiting for Dr. Painless in his office and amused myself taking a photo (again with my phone) through the window of his office.

IMG_1521
The city of Newport Beach with a dose of beach fog.

And then, Dr. Painless was ready to see me.

Or should I say, scold me?

As you may recall, last time I saw Dr. Painless he prescribed Fentanyl Patches for my post car accident chronic pain hell nightmare.  I wore one for about 5 hours, realized it did help my pain, and then took it off because "Dr. Google" told me I'd become addicted if I used Fentanyl patches.  If you missed my post about that experience, you can read it here.

Apparently Dr. Painless isn't a big fan of me being my "own doctor" as he so nicely put it.

Seeing as he's the second doctor to suggest to me I may not know more about medicine than he does, I owned up to the fact I really don't have a degree in specialized medicine.  

My orthopedic surgeon might have told me the same thing???

Harvard wishes they had accepted me into med school, but they didn't.

(Just kidding – I never applied.  I'm sure they would have wanted me though?!)

Anyway –

I explained to Dr. Painless why I didn't follow his instructions.  I voiced my concerns.  I re-explained (for maybe the millionth time?) how hard I've worked for 5+ years to not become dependent on pain meds.

I even told Dr. Painless I feared Fentanyl Patches would lead to me shooting up heroin in old abandoned doorways …

After he finished roaring with laughter and re-composed himself,

He, ahem, had a little talk with me.

I might be the most stubborn patient to ever walk through a doctor's door, but I'm willing to listen.

He explained to me things about pain receptors and pain impulses, and this and that and more of this and more of that …..

He assured me using Fentanyl Patches would not lead to drug addiction.

He was also pretty frank with something I spend a lot of time in denial of –

The forever-ness of my pain.

In other words, it isn't something that's ever going away,

As much as I like to pretend I will wake up pain-free anyday now.

Everyone else seems to LOVE to be on pain meds.  Tons of people seek them out for pure recreational fun.

Everyone but me, apparently.

I hate feeling drugged.

My conversation with the doc was long and complicated and medical-jargon-y-ish …

But I came out of his office agreeing to two things.

   1.  Beginning today I will (gulp) wear a pain patch.

   2.  I will immediately begin looking for a different way to transport my camera gear because apparently a backpack "is the absolute worst thing" I could be using.  (My arm doesn't function enough to carry any type of bag or hold anything – so I thought a backpack was a good option.  Apparently buying a case on rollers is immediately mandatory.)

Dr. Painless also loaded me up with some "emergency" steroids  pain meds  tactics for my upcoming trip back east.  Every time I travel I go into horrible pain flare-ups.  If/when this happens on my upcoming trip I'll have everything possible with me to attempt to get it under control.  

But,

That was the other thing ….

Dr. Painless was quite frank saying, "Some days you've got to accept you're just going down."

He was telling me I will (no matter what I do) still have days when I have to go hide in a corner, curled in a ball, and just wait out the pain.  The goal is to have fewer of those days, but he was very blunt about the fact I will still always have them.

I'm, pretty fucked up, after all.

So, okay then.

This is my life.

I've tried everything else,

Now, I'm going to try being a compliant patient.

I did say try, right?

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Man Cold

My weekend was pretty … meh.

Briefcase has a Man Cold and most of you know how that goes.

Is there anyone in the world who hasn't seen this hysterical video?


 

Man Cold video.

I'm hoping I don't catch it from him.

(Yes, I tried my best to avoid my husband all weekend …. while still being an annoyed a loving, impatient supportive, eye-rolling sympathetic wife.)

I've got a busy week planned, including a trip to the east coast next weekend.

I might try find time to buy a long sleeve shirt to wear while I'm back there.

I refuse to buy a coat for one weekend.

Stop laughing at me …

(Expect a future post about me freezing my ass off because I'm on the east coast at the end of October without a coat.)

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Wishing You a Happy Weekend

Beach_OC-1

Orange County beaches are at their finest this time of year.

You can guess where I'll be most of the weekend ….

I hope you have a wonderful weekend too!

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Photography Friday: Your Questions, Answered

As I recently promised, I'm going to answer some reader questions regarding photography for today's Photography Friday post.

Night_Sea-1
Laguna Beach night photo.

 Do I have to take a class to improve my photography?  No, you don't.  Some of my favorite (and some very famous) photographers are self taught.  By the way, self taught doesn't mean they just did whatever when shooting – they made a concentrated effort to learn and improve.  There are all sorts of ways to learn photography and a classroom is just one of them.

Photography is a journey.  Even the best photographers never stop learning.  By the way, photography is an expensive journey.  (Just warning you!)  Picking up good condition, used, lenses, etc., is a great option.

•  What do I need if I'm just starting out?  I get asked this question repeatedly.  I would start off with a basic DSLR (digital) camera.  Learn the camera inside and out, and add a beginning software editing program as soon as possible.

Ahem, it bears repeating, learn your camera inside and out.  It does no good to have tools you never use, right?  Good photographers can operate their cameras on different settings at night in the dark, without thinking twice about it.  Can you?

(Also, Photoshopping something to death doesn't begin to make up for a bad photo.)

 Do I have to shoot in RAW?  No, you don't have to.  You don't have to do anything.  The majority of professional photographers shoot in RAW though, and wouldn't consider doing otherwise.  If you don't have photo editing software, jpegs are the way to go.  There are other situations when jpegs are helpful too, but if you're trying to learn and improve you should understand RAW and the benefits it brings.

•  Why do I need photo editing software?  To answer that question, you need to understand how a digital camera works.  In film days, the photos were taken and then developed in a dark room.  How they were developed impacted the final look of the photo.  The same is true today with digital cameras.  The camera does some of the work, but not all of it.  If you really want to "finish" the process, you need photo editing software.

•  Do you ever use manual focus?  And if so, why?  Yes, I use manual focus frequently.

Purple_2-1
Macro photo of purple flower.

It isn't possible to take photos like the above purple flower on auto-focus.  Manual focus is your friend – acquaint yourself with it.  It's really very easy, I promise.

•  Can I use Lightroom if I don't shoot in RAW?  Yes, you can.  Lightroom is a great tool for organizing and sorting photos.  It also allows you to do some basic photo editing adjustments.  It doesn't allow you to do everything Photoshop allows you to do, however.  

It's a limited tool, but a good one.

•  What do you use to edit your photos?  I use Lightroom and Photoshop CS5. 

Rodeo_Dr_Stairs-1
Photo of Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, CA.

•  People say I take nice photos, can I make money off of them?  Possibly.  A lot (!!) of people take "nice" photos though.  In fact, there are many amazing, spectacular, photographers making no money.

Be your own biggest critic – how can you make your photos better/special/different?  Start noticing photos you love – in magazines, in the newspaper, in books, on the Internet … and then ask yourself why you like them.  

 Nikon or Canon?  Either.

•  Finally,

Photography is art – find your own style and have fun!  

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Rejection and Disappointment

Everyone experiences negative stuff, it's part of living.

The scent of rejection, and the disappointment it brings, may lighten in time – but it pervades and shapes our lives in definitive ways.

One of my girl friends and I were talking recently about the highs and lows of life.  How had particularly painful moments defined us?  What bad moments in life still sting years later?  What negative experiences are laughable now, regardless of the pain they caused once-upon-a-time?

I've realized the most painful moments in my life have been those caused by the betrayal or abandonment of friends and/or lovers. 

Job interviews that didn't work out, less than a perfect grade on a test I studied my ass off for, vacations with bad weather and ruined plans, being told no one would ever read my writing …..

Those things don't seem to matter in the long run.

Taking someone into your life though,

Trusting them with your inner thoughts and vulnerable heart –

Having people you love betray you,

Abandon you,

Reject you …

Those are the hurts that never go away.

At least not for me.

It isn't a matter of forgiving, or not forgiving …

It just feels, for me, like having my heart shredded by a jagged piece of glass.

I don't open my heart to people easily or quickly.

Once I love someone, I love deeply whether that person is a friend, family member, or mate.

How dare they decide they no longer love ME?

(I laugh at myself …

And yet, I don't.)

My friend told me a story of an experience she had several years ago.  

She gave me permission to share it with you.

We laughed about it in the re-telling, but I honestly can't imagine how much it must have hurt her.

For storytelling purposes, I will call my friend Jane (not her real name).

A man Jane knew "courted" her for a long time.  (For writing purposes, I'll call the man Mike.)

Jane was vaguely interested in Mike, but having just come out of a break-up, she wasn't eager to get involved with anyone.

Mike was patient.

Mike was not pushy.

Mike was always "there" for her.

Mike made her laugh.

Mike was consistent and steady and persistent in a non-threatening way …

Eventually, little by little, Jane opened her heart to Mike.

It didn't happen quickly,

It was a slow, gradual, bonding over the course of about 18 months.

Once in awhile Mike would try to move the relationship to a more romantic level, but he always respected Jane's wishes when she said she wasn't ready.

Mike became a friend, and then eventually a "best" friend to Jane.

One day she realized she couldn't imagine not having Mike in her life.

He had pretty much made himself a fixture in her life.

Mike called Jane "just to check-in" almost every day.  

He was always hanging around, just casually there on a pretty frequent basis.

After quite some time, about a year and a half to be exact, Jane invited Mike over for dinner.

She lit candles, she put romantic music on –

She was ready to take the relationship to the next step.

Mike appeared overjoyed initially.

They had a nice dinner at her apartment, "accidentally" touching each other throughout the meal.  Eventually they held hands, then kissed, then moved to the couch.  Mike was eager, Jane "slowed him down" a few times.

They sipped on wine and kissed some more ….

Things progressed and they soon found themselves intertwined or her bed.

Mike finally had her naked –

After all this time of pursuing her –

He had what he wanted, right?

She, on the other hand, was more than just naked physically.

She had (after the longest courtship in modern history) opened her heart to him, completely.

Mid-heavy-duty-make-out-session,

Mike, for whatever reason, suddenly "changed."

He went from being eager and affectionate to suddenly distant.

The change was obviously very unexpected by Jane.

(This was, after all, the man who had been "after" her for over a year.)

She was baffled and unsure of what had happened to cause this sudden and abrupt change with Mike.

Affectionate and horny Mike was replaced by distant Mike in a matter of minutes.

Fifteen minutes later, Mike left.

My friend was naked.

Alone.

Confused.

Rejected.

Hurt.

Devastated.

Now she jokes, "The sight of me naked sent him running."

She laughs, but I can hear the doubt in her voice like maybe it really did.

She's beautiful, by the way.

I may be biased because I'm her friend, but she's a gorgeous person inside and out.

(She's been in a very loving relationship with someone else for many years now.)

She never heard from Mike again.

He just disappeared.

After all that time of calling her, 

Of pursuing her,

Of spending time with her –

He basically ran away and never looked back.

She tried to get in touch with him initially,

Mike avoided her calls and refused to talk to her.

His silence, his avoidance, hurt Jane more than his abrupt departure.

She kept asking herself,

What had she done wrong?

(She still wonders ….)

He couldn't really be walking away forever, after all that time chasing her, could he?

He wouldn't really stop calling her, after talking almost every day for months and months, would he?

But he did.

Just like that, and with no explanation, Mike was gone.

We laughed about this story when she told me,

"Once upon a time a guy saw me naked and ran real fast" type of laughter.

But?

Ouch!

Underneath her laughter I can still hear the hurt years later.

Maybe that is what touched me most about her story.

She may try to laugh it off now, but Mike left a permanent wound.

I hear wistful sadness when she explains how much she missed his friendship, for years, after he "dumped her."

I don't think she'd ever admit it, but it seems like she misses him still.

I know she still questions what she did to disappoint him.

What must be wrong with her, to make him run like that?

The answer, or course, is not a damn thing.

The flaw is not with her,

It's somewhere within Mike.

But …

Will she ever, truly, one hundred percent, believe that?

I don't think she will.

© Twenty Four At Heart