A First Glance: Stairwells and Pretty Pictures

Cliche Alert!

Things aren’t always as they seem.

You knew that, though…right?

Several years ago, I was visiting a friend and noticed an odd contraption in the middle of the room with the Apple logo on it. My mind started spinning with all the possible newfangled inventions that Steve Jobs and his team of geniuses could have come up with that I didn’t know about yet, so I pointed at the object and asked about it.

“Hey–what is that thing right there? Something new from Apple?”

“That? No, that’s my humidifier. I just put the sticker on it.”

the office eye roll GIF
Cue the “I-Feel-Stupid-Now” reaction.

Of course, how was I really supposed to know unless I asked? I’m not usually hip to all the latest technology and lingo and such. I’m not on fleeks with all that and a bag of chips.

I was recently in a situation where I decided it was best to just trust that something I was seeing was a bit…off.

Elevators make me nervous. I was stuck in one once for about ten minutes when I was ten years old, and a little incident in which about a baker’s dozen of my colleagues were stuck between floors on one in the not-so-distant past hasn’t helped ease my concerns. If I have a choice, I’d prefer the stairs…or an escalator.

escalator GIF
Escalators just seem like more fun, don’t you think?

Anyway, I found myself in a building I’ve only visited a handful of times, and I’ve always taken the elevator. However, once I walked through the lobby doors, I noticed that one of the elevators was staying put with the doors open…and was apparently under repair. The interior of the elevator is filled with mirrors, and most of them were covered as though they were being replaced.

The situation screamed, “FIND THE STAIRS.”

I asked a lady that I saw in the lobby to help me find the stairwell…because I didn’t trust the elevators. I pointed at the one in question as I spoke to her and she said, “Oh, that doesn’t look good. Let’s see if we can find the stairs. Where are you going? The top floor? Ooh…hmmm.”

Error Number One: I didn’t ask enough questions about the key card she had to swipe in order to open the stairwell in the first place.

“Umm…when I get to the top, will I be able to get through the other door?”

“Oh, I think so. I think this is just designed to keep people out but not lock them in.”

“O…kay.”

I was huffing and puffing my way up the stairs when I had a little flashback to a summer internship during the ol’ college days. I have always preferred getting to work early, and I was true to form on the morning in question. Interns are typically given what they need and not much else, so I only had one key–the one that accessed the back stairwell. I soon found myself in a stairwell limbo because I wasn’t able to open any other doors. (I’m glad someone was actually there and heard me knocking frantically on one of the doors.)

cat jumping GIF
LET ME IN!

Error Number Two: I thought I was in better physical shape than I am. Had I known that I would have to climb all the way back down the stairs because–surprise–I actually couldn’t get through the upstairs door, I would have just taken my chances with the elevator in the first place. The whole time I was headed back downstairs, I kept praying that I could get back through the original door. Otherwise, I was going to have a problem on my hands.

When I finally made my way back to the lobby, I was able to get back through the door (thank goodness), and I took my chances with the elevator.

I’m happy to report that the problem with the elevator wasn’t as terrible as it appeared. My calves, on the other hand, are now feeling the results of my stellar intuition.

Speaking of things not appearing as they seem, sometimes things are exactly as they appear. (Why, yes, I do have some new photography to share! How did you guess? And, no, I haven’t doctored or otherwise overly edited these photographs. What you see is what I saw…unless it’s in black and white. I did shoot a few in black and white.)

I took a little Spring Break adventure to visit some parks I hadn’t been to before, and here are just a few photographs. Look for some of them to appear in my Etsy shop soon!

The first ones are from Elephant Rocks State Park in Missouri. I really enjoyed the trail and the scenery. If you haven’t heard of it, you can find more information here.

Black and White photo from Elephant Rocks State Park in Missouri.
Color photo from Elephant Rocks State Park in Missouri.

Another stop…Big Spring, also in Missouri. Although it was cloudy and cool the day I visited, the views were quite impressive. You can find more information about this location here.

I forgot my tripod, but I managed as best I could.
Yes, the water is actually that blue.

So…there are a few photographs for you to look at that are accurate at first glance. I’m going to go rest my calves now. I hope you enjoy the photos.

A Piece of Advice: Be Accurately Specific

I’m a strong advocate for specificity. (Wow, that word is a mouthful. Spesss-if-issss-ity. Did I even use it correctly? I hope so. Good thing I don’t have a lisp.)

I learned the phrase “be more specific” from years of watching my favorite game show. I mean, you can’t just respond to a clue about British royalty without telling Alex Trebek the king’s name and number, after all. (Do you know how many Georges and Edwards ruled back in the day? Neither do I, but I’ll bet it was a lot.)

alex trebek GIF
Specifics make Alex happy.

Being vague leaves lots of room for misinterpretation. There are times, however, when being too specific can cause problems. (Like, for instance, my predisposition to being too specific with observations. Side effects can include mental anguish and brain implosions.)

This is NOT a hair dryer. This is a BAG. The hair dryer is in the bag, yes, but it’s a BAG. The bag should be labeled “BAG.” Oh, you say I need a vacation? I saw this IN A HOTEL. (Okay, okay…I’ll stop thinking now.)

However, I still believe it’s better to be overly and accurately specific. Never underestimate someone’s ability to misinterpret vague requests.

For example…

Do you like a good BLT? I know I do, but I’m not crazy about mayonnaise. In fact, I’m not crazy about putting much of anything extra on my burgers, sandwiches, or BLTs, and I’m always met with skepticism by the person on the other side of the restaurant window when I request NO mustard or NO ketchup. (I like what I like, so I’ve learned to deal with it.)

space GIF
Looks good, but I’d like mine without mayonnaise.

So, when I tried to order a BLT without mayonnaise once at a fast food restaurant, I expected questions, but I wasn’t really in the mood to deal with them. I was in a hurry, so instead of being accurately specific, I ordered with brevity and simplicity in mind.

I used the word “plain.”

Server: Can I take your order?

Me: Yes, I’d like a plain BLT, please.

Server: One PLAIN BLT? Plain?

Me: Yes, please.

Server: O…kay. That’ll be right out.

Well, they did indeed leave off the mayonnaise…and the L, and the T. It was a good bacon sandwich, although it was…missing a few other key components.

confused laura dern GIF

I learned a little something that day about being accurately specific. The sandwich was okay, but it needed a little TLC…or, more specifically, L and T.

Be more specific.

An Observational Thought: To Regret Or Not To Regret

How often do you stop to think about regret?

I’ve heard of plenty of people who claim to live with no regrets, but I’m not sure I completely believe them. Not only that, but I’ve been thinking (a.k.a. confusing myself) about a bigger question when it comes to regret:

Which do you regret more? The things you didn’t do…or the things you did?

Decorative wall art pieces are full of inspirational quotes about taking chances because living with the regret of not doing something can eat away at your soul (or something like that).

However, how often do you see bathroom wall art telling you about the other side of that sentiment? (One would think the bathroom is a logical place to regret something you did do…like ordering tainted meat for dinner. Too much information? Sorry. I regret sharing that thought with you now. See? I regret something I just did. But I digress…)

It really is an interesting question (particularly for someone as meticulously observant as myself).

Now, I’m not talking about the really big decisions like moving to another continent or dropping everything to become a professional boxer (or something like that). I’m talking about the everyday decisions we make that usually aren’t the decisions the wall artists are writing about.

I say that we need to examine the basic stuff you regret actually doing almost immediately…even when your gut says, “Take a chance!”

Say, how about a list?

Simple Things That People Usually Regret Once They Have Already Done Them:

  1. New Haircuts/Hairstyles. EVERYONE has at least one regrettable decision they’ve made about a haircut or style. Mine was a perm. I was sixteen. My hairdresser tried to stop me, but I was being stubborn. It wouldn’t be the first or last time I made a questionable hair decision.
Luckily, this was a wig. But I regret allowing this photograph to be taken.
Luckily, this was a wig. But I regret allowing this photograph to be taken.

2. Fashion Choices. You only thought whatever was “in style” looked good at the time because, by golly, a magazine told you it was “in style.”

This use of a giant bow just happened to be broadcast all over the television viewing area when I was 13.
This use of a giant bow (I’m glad it was cut off in this picture…there’s a lot more above the top of the shot) just happened to be broadcast all over the television viewing area when I was 13.

3. Playing With A Small Animal With Sharp Teeth. Just go ahead and add this to your list of stuff you will regret immediately if you do it. I have no photographic evidence of this one, but I was five, the hamster bit my finger, I wasn’t supposed to be playing with him in the first place, and I tried to doctor the wound without telling anyone. (Mercurochrome was bright red. I didn’t do a very good job of hiding that little problem.)

Without getting too sentimental, I will say that I have taken a chance on at least one thing I do not regret and I’m glad I’m working on it…photography. I also don’t regret this shameless plug for my Etsy photography shop.

http://www.etsy.com/shop/MeticulousObserver

(Ah, advertising.)

I get it–everyone has something major in their life that they feel they need to do in order to avoid regret for not taking the chance later. But, you have to admit, you’ve probably made plenty of small decisions that leave you with small pieces of regret.

As long as they’re funny enough to laugh at later, maybe it isn’t such a bad idea to take the chance.

(By the way, I don’t regret writing this. Not yet, anyway. I don’t think. Maybe. Possibly. Potentially.)

An Obvious Observation (And More Photographs)

You’ve all heard the saying about how it’s safe to under-promise and over-deliver. Regardless of how far you go with that philosophy, you would have to agree that if you’re offering one service, one menu item, one ANYTHING, it would be wise to actually provide it.

(NOTE: On some mobile devices, the photo below appears to be sideways. I’m not sure why that’s happening. It seems to be just fine on my laptop. If it bothers you too much…well, just tilt your head until it looks normal. Sorry…and oops.)

It's true that pay phones are dinosaurs, but the sign said "Phone Here." (Maybe those quotation marks an attempt at sarcasm...?)
It’s true that pay phones are dinosaurs, but the sign said “Phone Here.” I expected to see a phone…here. (Maybe those quotation marks are an attempt at sarcasm…?)

I said I would post photographs; therefore, I’m going to post them. I had a nice outing along the Little Red River feeding my photography addiction. If you have the chance to visit the area, it’s a great place to relax, especially during this incredible heat wave. While you wouldn’t want to attempt swimming due to the cold water temperatures, the cold water temperatures have the bonus effect of cooling the air at the banks.

I have added the new landscapes to the photo gallery and included a link below for your viewing convenience. Check this one out and click the link for more of my work! Enjoy!

Cow Shoals Black and White Watermark

Photo Gallery–Updated!

An Introduction

You’d probably like to know why you’re here.

I ask myself that philosophical question at least a dozen times a day.

However, you’re probably thinking more practically than that, so let me give you an idea of what I will be feeding you via this webpage.

Grilled Stuff   (That’s not exactly what I’ll be feeding you, so don’t worry.)

I could describe myself in lots of different ways, but I think the best way to put it is that I’m a meticulously observant observer.

Case in point…if you were to create an acronym from that description, it would spell “M.O.O.” However, if you met me in person, you’d never associate the image of “cow” with my petite frame, so I suppose I’d be one of those skinny cows you hear about on the television, and…see what I mean? If it can be overthought, I’ll overthink it.

When social media came along, I finally had an outlet for all of my observations. Facebook was where I discovered my comedic voice. Twitter came along and helped me to choose my words carefully thanks to the character limit. YouTube…well, I haven’t fully utilized YouTube yet, but I’m sure I’ll find a way to embarrass myself there. (If I haven’t already. Everyone has a camera phone these days, so I could be a YouTube sensation for tripping over my own left foot and just not know it…)

As I started compiling these observations and generally refining my wordsmithery, I made the decision to begin working on a manuscript for a book. I’m editing at this point and very excited about the possibilities.

But, I guess you’d still like me to answer that all-important practical yet philosophical question.

Why are you here?

Read some of my stories.

Think about some of my observations.

Rest assured that grammatical correct-ness still exists…or, yeah.

Check out my landscape photography (and maybe buy a print or four).

Follow an eclectic hodgepodge of hobbies.

Laugh.

See, the thing is, I just want to make you (yes, you) smile. If you enjoy my webpage, great! If not…don’t tell anyone you don’t like it. Instead, tell a friend who might actually like it that they should really give it a read and…

I’ll stop now. In the meantime, I’m going to continue working on the page.

Welcome, enjoy, and have a lovely…whatever time of day it is.